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Thursday, May 19, 2022

The Glorious Pathway to a Beautiful Ending – Purity 735


 
The Glorious Pathway to a Beautiful Ending – Purity 735

Purity 735 05/19/2022   Purity 735 Podcast

Good morning,

Today’s photo of a boardwalk pathway running along the waters of the Hudson River comes to us from a friend who visited the Saugerties Lighthouse back on April 28th.   Even though I can’t see the lighthouse in this photo, I trust that my friend was telling their friends on social media the truth and that if we followed in their footsteps we would find the lighthouse at the end of this path and that we would undoubtedly see it and enjoy its beauty as we walked toward it.   

Well, it’s Thursday, and by now it shouldn’t surprise any of my friends that I am sharing another photo of a pathway today because Thursdays nights have been the day on which I have taught and encouraged others to follow the path of Christian Discipleship to experience their freedom in Christ and to overcome besetting sins and negative emotions that prevent Christians from experiencing the peace and joy that is to be expected when we walk in the Spirit.  

Although I first “believed” and made Jesus my Lord and Savior back in 2010, and I set about coming to know what His word said and what being a Christian meant in earnest in the years leading up to it, I didn’t really “put my money where my mouth was”, I didn’t really repent until 2015, when Pastor Bob Costello started a Christian Recovery program at my local church, and I decided to trust the Lord to free me from the bondage of addiction that I had put myself in since being a young adult. We are talking about 20 hard core years of willful enjoyment of alcohol and drugs here.  And not only did I think I was unable to stop, I frankly didn’t want to stop.

Although I had been a Christian for a few years, I hadn’t given up my besetting sin even though I was sincerely trying to seek the Lord.  I not only attended church twice a week, I also served in the church as an audio visual tech. I went to Bible study once a week.  I already had gotten my Associates degree in Biblical Studies and was working on completing my Bachelor’s degree in Bible College! 

But even though I had given myself to all of these pursuits and had tried to repent of my addictions on my own with little success, in 2015 – I publicly let everyone know that I was going into recovery and trusting the Lord to help me overcome the vices I thought I would never give up. 

The Lord is faithful and if you humble yourself and surrender to His will for your life, He will lift you up and give you the strength to walk away from the darkness of your past. 

So after successfully completing the program, I began teaching on Thursday Nights at the recovery ministry and eventually transitioned to teaching Christian Discipleship in 2021.  And tonight I will continue in my endeavors to encourage Christians to apply their faith to their lives by facilitating the Freedom in Christ Discipleship Course on Zoom for Freedom in Christ Ministries.   

I share these messages of encouragement on the blog and podcast and volunteer my time to share the message of Freedom in Christ because I have “been there” and “done that”. I have walked the path of Christian Discipleship through some very dark valleys in my life’s journey and I know that faith in Jesus Christ and living according to the life principles set forth in the word of God is the pathway that is rich in meaning and purpose, is paved with the fruit of the Spirit, and just happens to lead to everlasting life.  

I know that the word is God is true because I have experienced the Lord’s presence and guidance in my life and simply have no choice but to give Him honor and praise and encourage others to come to know the Lord and to experience their freedom in Christ  for themselves. 

Somewhere along the path, early in my walk, I fell in love with the Barlow Girl’s song “Beautiful Ending”.  I am sharing a link to a YouTube video of it, on the blog (https://youtu.be/XO0lBwYCehc) because my stating the lyrics probably won’t do it justice.   But the song says:  

“Oh, tragedy
Has taken so many
Love lost cause they all
Forgot who You were
And it scares me to think
That I would choose
My life over You
Oh, my selfish heart
Divides me from You
It tears us apart

So tell me
What is our ending?
Will it be beautiful
So beautiful?

Oh, why do I
Let myself let go
Of Hands that painted the stars
And hold tears that fall?
And the pride of my heart
Makes me forget
It's not me but You
Who makes the heart beat
I'm lost without You
And dying from me

So tell me
What is our ending?
Will it be beautiful
So beautiful?

Will my life
Find me by Your side?
Your love is beautiful
So beautiful

At the end of it all
I wanna be in Your arms”

 

And repeat! Bridge, Chorus, Chorus.  

That song was a huge inspiration for me in those early days of my faith because it pointed to my ultimate salvation, of when I would see God face to face. But it also stretched my heart to love the Lord, for the gift of His forgiveness and the power He had poured into me with the Holy Spirit.  It not only gave me hope for that final destination, it gave me hope for overcoming the many problems in my life by walking with Him.  Is that not in the song?  Must have been the Holy Spirit encouraging me!    

And so I sang that song. I lived that song. And I saw the beautiful ending of my struggles come into sight the more I followed the Lord. And even in the darkest days, it drove me to believe that I would find a beautiful ending, not only in heaven, but here on earth.  

And can I tell you? I found it.  But guess what this is a pathway. Our journey is not over. I keep walking and talking with God because I know that there is another “beautiful ending” somewhere down this road and many more before I see the Lord face to face.   

So let me encourage you. God has a beautiful plan for your life. There may be great suffering in our journey but the beauty of our path begins with the reception of the gift of our forgiveness and a new and eternal life.  

If we forsake the gift, if we accept Jesus and then just go back to the normalcy of our dark pre-Christ existence, if we fail to answer His call on our life, we will lose sight of the beautiful thing He has done for us and we will not walk into the beautiful things that He wants us to see before we see Him face to face, before we are in His arms.  

So turn from the world and start, or keep on, walking and talking with God. Surrender to His will and guidance. He has beautiful things for you to see. So start walking in His direction, because even though I know you can’t see it yet,  I swear that your beautiful endings are down this pathway and I promise that you will eventually see them in the distance, reach them and then move on to the next beautiful ending that the Lord has for you, before you get to that ultimate beautiful ending which is really just another beginning as we will live, rule, and reign with God for ever and ever. Amen.

______________________________________________________________

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

This morning’s meditation verse is:

Proverbs 2:5 (NLT2)
5  Then you will understand what it means to fear the LORD, and you will gain knowledge of God.

Today’s Bible verse reminds us that when we understand what it means to fear the Lord, we will gain knowledge of Him.  

Pretty simple huh, the Word means what it says. Uh Oh, Are we supposed to fear the Lord? 

Hey, let’s keep it real life and death are scary matters.  And the Word of God is filled with the Lord’s warnings to be right with Him or be subject to His wrath.  

Yeah, Hell isn’t Satan’s kingdom. It’s his prison and God is the one who sends him, and everyone else who rejects Jesus as Lord and Savior, there.  

So yes having a healthy fear of the all powerful and holy God of all creation is wisdom.  However, because God graciously offers us forgiveness and adoption into His kingdom through faith in His Son, Jesus Christ, we don’t have to be afraid of God.  

God loves us and wants us to come to Him. His warnings of His judgement and wrath are done out of love. He wants us to know the consequences of rebellion and denying Him.

In the world they have “scared straight” programs, where trouble youth are brought into prisons to see the harsh reality of where their criminal behaviors will ultimately lead them. The intention isn’t just to terrify the children with the possibilities of confinement, violence, and degradation that are part of life in prison. The intention is to cause them to see the error of their ways and to avoid the consequences.   

The fear of the Lord is supposed to draw us to surrender to Him and to follow His wisdom and ways.

So the fear of the wrath of God is one aspect of gaining knowledge of God. 

But another aspect of this “fear of the Lord” should include the simple but awesome fact that God is Creator.  Think of it. As big as this universe is, as old as it is, God was before it all. He imagined and created it all. 

I sometimes get tripped up just thinking about the vast multitudes of people on the earth and consider the fact that God knows everyone of them and the intentions of their hearts.  

The fear in this sense is “respect”. How great and might is He!  So we are to have a healthy fear of God, His ways are higher than our ways but He calls us to be with Him and to know Him and it is an offer we should accept.

 

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 John Piper’s “Don’t Waste Your Life”.  

As always, I share this information for educational purposes and encourage all to purchase John Pipers’ books for your own private study and to support his work.  This resource is available on many websites for less than $5.00.

Inspiring Sacrifice for Lesser Causes

In fact, in wartime sinners often rise to remarkable levels of sacrifice for causes that cannot compare with Christ. The greatest cause in the world is joyfully rescuing people from hell, meeting their earthly needs, making them glad in God, and doing it with a kind, serious pleasure that makes Christ look like the Treasure he is. No war on earth was ever fought for a greater cause or a greater king.

But oh, what bold risks and daring sacrifices these lesser causes have inspired! On February 19, 1944, the battle for Iwo Jima began. It was a barren, eight-mile-square island six hundred miles south of Tokyo, guarded by 22,000 Japanese prepared to fight to the death (which they did). They were protecting two air strips that America needed in the strategic effort to contain Japanese aggression after Pearl Harbor and preserve the liberty that America cherished. It was a high cause, and the courageous sacrifice was stunning.

The hard statistics show the sacrifice made by Colonel Johnson’s 2nd Battalion: 1,400 boys [many still teenagers] landed on D-Day; 288 replacements were provided as the battle went on, a total of 1,688. Of these, 1,511 had been killed or wounded. Only 177 walked off the island. And of the final 177, 91 had been wounded at least once and returned to battle.

It had taken twenty-two crowded transports to bring the 5th Division to the island. The survivors fit comfortably onto eight departing ships.

The American boys had killed about 21,000 Japanese, but suffered more than 26,000 casualties doing so. This would be the only battle in the Pacific where the invaders suffered higher casualties than the defenders.

The Marines fought in World War II for forty-three months. Yet in one month on Iwo Jima, one third of their total deaths occurred. They left behind the Pacific’s largest cemeteries: nearly 6,800 graves in all; mounds with their crosses and stars. Thousands of families would not have the solace of a body to bid farewell: just the abstract information that the Marine had “died in the performance of his duty” and was buried in a plot, aligned in a row with numbers on his grave. Mike lay in Plot 3, Row 5, Grave 694; Harlon in Plot 4, Row 6, Grave 912; Franklin in Plot 8, Row 7, Grave 2189.

When I think of Mike, Harlon, and Franklin there, I think of the message someone had chiseled outside the cemetery:

When you go home

Tell them for us and say

For your tomorrow

We gave our today

O Lord, Don’t Let Me Waste My Life!

I am deeply moved by the courage and carnage on Iwo Jima. As I read the pages of this history, everything in me cries out, “O Lord, don’t let me waste my life!” Let me come to the end—whether soon or late—and be able to say to a family, a church, a city, and the unreached peoples of the earth, “For your tomorrow, I gave my today. Not just for your tomorrow on earth, but for the countless tomorrows of your ever-increasing gladness in God.” The closer I looked at the individual soldiers in this World War II history, the more I felt a passion that my life would count, and that I would be able to die well.

As rainy morning wore into afternoon and the fighting bogged down, the Marines continued to take casualties. Often it was the corpsmen [medics] themselves who died as they tried to preserve life. William Hoopes of Chattanooga was crouching beside a medic named Kelly, who put his head above a protective ridge and placed binoculars to his eyes—just for an instant—to spot a sniper who was peppering his area. In that instant the sniper shot him through the Adam’s apple. Hoopes, a pharmacist’s mate himself, struggled frantically to save his friend. “I took my forceps and reached into his neck to grasp the artery and pinch it off,” Hoopes recalled. “His blood was spurting. He had no speech but his eyes were on me. He knew I was trying to save his life. I tried everything in the world. I couldn’t do it. I tried. The blood was so slippery. I couldn’t get the artery. I was trying so hard. And all the while he just looked at me. He looked directly into my face. The last thing he did as the blood spurts became less and less was to pat me on the arm as if to say, ‘That’s all right.’ Then he died.”

In this heart-breaking moment I want to be Hoopes and I want to be Kelly. I want to be able to say to suffering and perishing people, “I tried everything in the world.… I was trying so hard.” And I want to be able to say to those around me when I die, “It’s all right. To live is Christ, and to die is gain.”

When the Trifling Fog Clears

At these moments, when the trifling fog of life clears and I see what I am really on earth to do, I groan over the petty pursuits that waste so many lives—and so much of mine. Just think of the magnitude of sports—a whole section of the daily newspaper. But there is no section on God. Think of the endless resources for making your home and garden more comfortable and impressive. Think of how many tens of thousands of dollars you can spend to buy more car than you need. Think of the time and energy and conversation that go into entertainment and leisure and what we call “fun stuff.” And add to that now the computer that artificially recreates the very games that are already so distant from reality; it is like a multi-layered dreamworld of insignificance expanding into nothingness.[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] John Piper, Don’t Waste Your Life (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books, 2003), 122–125.

Wednesday, May 18, 2022

Going to Extremes & The First Thing On Our “To Do" Lists – Purity 734


Going to Extremes & The First Thing On Our “To Do Lists”– Purity 734

Purity 734 05/18/2022   Purity 734 Podcast

Good morning,

Today’s photo of display of desert fauna and a collection of cacti beneath a clear blue sky with a beam of sunshine pointing to a distant desert peak comes to us from a friend who visited the Desert Botanical Garden in Phoenix Arizona back on April 7th.

Just as the sunbeam seems to be pointing to just beyond that hump in the desert near Phoenix Arizona, I decided to share this photo to remind us all that while we have reached another “hump day” by entering into the midpoint of the work week, today is May 18th, and we are beyond the midway point of this month! 

So what am I saying? I don’t know. I guess I am saying that time can fly when you are having fun or it can just fly by and if we are not intentional about enjoying each day in the presence of the Lord and are proactive about taking care of what lies before us things can pile up, turning our mole hills of problems into mountains. 

One example of this literally is just outside my front door. As the May weather has brought a heaping helping of both sunshine and rain, nature has responded in force and even though my beloved wife enthusiastically mowed the lawn at River House a few weeks ago the grass is reaching for the skies again and it has been joined by a plethora of weeds that have sprouted up almost defiantly as if to announce: “We’re Back!

I took great pains to clear them from my property last fall after I had been lax in dealing with the edges of my property where they established a veritable jungle, resulting in the need of a herculean effort to literally slash and burn them out of existence.  So now the pristine conditions for growth have caused them to invade my property once again.  So put “mow lawn, and the edges of the property on the “to do list.”

So this is a nice reminder to all of us that even though we can be engaged in seeking the Lord and growing in our faith, we still have to take care of the everyday things like maintain our homes, our motor vehicles, and taking care of ours and our family’s health needs.  

But this is also a reminder to those who are busy “taking care of business” with those everyday things to not forsake the assembly of the saints or your own spiritual development.   

Walking in the Spirit will lead you to the pathway to peace but it can’t be done to the exclusion of the real world problems that surround us. If we just focus on our spiritual pursuits, the real world problems will pile up and demand attention.  

Working at “doing everything right” by diligently addressing the needs of our home and families could also bring a measure of peace as we can congratulate ourselves on “getting ‘er done” but if we are not careful our efforts could result in busyness as “surely there is something else we can do” and “pride” as we could glory in our abilities to exact control over our environments and solve problems in our own strength.  This work ethic could also lead to exhaustion as there will always be more to do in the shifting landscapes of our lives.    

I was just reminded that the enemy loves when we go to “extremes”. Recently, I heard a friend’s testimony about how differences in doctrinal beliefs between Christians drove the parties to extreme statements and actions, that included lies and betrayal, causing a relationship that had been harmonious for over 20 years to be broken.   

In “An Appeal for a Good Conscience” Richard Sibbes wrote that:

The devil is an extremist. He labors to bring people to extremes, to make the outward rituals idols, or to make them idle rituals. That is, he wants us to focus so intently on the external aspects of our faith (such as baptism and the Lord’s Supper) that we make the ceremonies themselves objects of idolatry—or else get us to care so little for them that they mean nothing at all. The devil gets what he wants either way.[1]

Sibbes was writing on how Christians could get caught up on the rituals of religion to the exclusion to our relationship with God and how the devil delights in it when we go to extremes.  

So as we move into the midway point of the week and past the midway point of the month, I would like to encourage all my friends to try to establish a balance between both our spiritual needs and our physical needs.  Walking on the path of Christian Discipleship is supposed to be all encompassing, meaning that we invest time in our relationship with the Lord on a daily basis but we also are diligent to not be so heavenly minded that we ignore or neglect our responsibility on earth.  So our daily lives as Christians should be a mix of both our spiritual practices and doing the things that are required at work and at home knowing that grounding ourselves in our identity in Christ and in our relationship with God will provide us with peace regardless of the circumstances but it is also wise to manage the circumstances that we can change with our efforts and work.  

“To do lists” are a great way to address needs and schedule the resolution of problems that will keep us on top of the things that need to be done and to accomplish the things that we want to accomplish.

But we should make sure that our first “to do” on our lists will establish and maintain our relationship and peace with God because no matter what we plan for or how successful we are about “taking care of business” there will come a time when our efforts will not be successful or where we will be severely tested and challenged and if we are only relying on our own skills and strengths for our sense of worth or for our peace, we will experience a great loss when we discover that we are not the master’s of our domains or captains of our destinies.  

The word of God indicates that we are to be humble and to rely on God. It is only because of His grace and mercy that we have what we have in our lives and in our salvation.  So be careful to avoid extremes in how we walk through this world and to stay in the middle of His presence and love by always recognizing our limitations and our great need for Him.

______________________________________________________________

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

This morning’s meditation verse is:

Proverbs 2:1-2 (NLT2)
1  My child, listen to what I say, and treasure my commands.
2  Tune your ears to wisdom, and concentrate on understanding.

Today’s Bible verse encourages us to listen to the word of God, to value what it says and to concentrate on understanding what it says.  

Today’s verse comes from the “wisdom literature” genre in the Bible, in the book of Proverbs, so it shouldn’t be too much of a surprise that it guides us to tune our ears to wisdom and to understand what God is trying to tell us. 

Understanding something can be multifaceted as we examine what we are being told. First we have to listen to what we are being told, understand what the message is in and of itself, and then we have to consider the implications of what it means in our lives.

What is this saying? What’s this got to do with me? What am I going to do with this?

More and more as I have endeavored to walk in the Spirit, I have become convinced that the true value of our faith in Christ comes from obeying the word of God and by applying its wisdom to our lives: to believe it and to live it. 

Can we say we really “treasure” God’s commands, if we don’t obey them? Can we say we have concentrated on understanding, if our knowledge hasn’t changed how we think and behave? Can we say we have listened, if our responses don’t reflect the wisdom of what we have been told?

I don’t think so.  

So like today’s verse directs us: Let’s listen to what the Lord is telling us in His word, let’s treasure His commands. Let’s tune our ears to His wisdom. And Let’s concentrate on understanding it and then demonstrate that we have heard it, understood it, and treasure it by incorporating His wisdom in the way that we live our lives.      

 

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 John Piper’s “Don’t Waste Your Life”.  

As always, I share this information for educational purposes and encourage all to purchase John Pipers’ books for your own private study and to support his work.  This resource is available on many websites for less than $5.00.

Clean Noses and Quality Family Time Is Not Life

Oh, how many lives are wasted by people who believe that the Christian life means simply avoiding badness and providing for the family. So there is no adultery, no stealing, no killing, no embezzlement, no fraud—just lots of hard work during the day, and lots of TV and PG-13 videos in the evening (during quality family time), and lots of fun stuff on the weekend—woven around church (mostly). This is life for millions of people. Wasted life. We were created for more, far more.

There is an old saying: “No man ever lamented on his dying bed, ‘I wish I had spent more time at the office.’ ” The point being made is usually that when you are about to die, money suddenly looks like what it really is, useless for lasting happiness, while relationships become precious. It’s true. When my mother was killed in 1974, I wrote to the chairman of my department at Bethel College, where I was teaching, and reversed my request to teach an overload the next semester to make more money. Standing beside your mother’s grave with a wife and child makes things look different. Money loses its pull.

But that saying about spending less time at the office can be misleading. We need to add this: No one will ever want to say to the Lord of the universe five minutes after death, I spent every night playing games and watching clean TV with my family because I loved them so much. I think the Lord will say, “That did not make me look like a treasure in your town. You should have done something besides provide for yourself and your family. And TV, as you should have known, was not a good way to nurture your family or your own soul.”

Television, the Great Life-Waster

Television is one of the greatest life-wasters of the modern age. And, of course, the Internet is running to catch up, and may have caught up. You can be more selective on the Internet, but you can also select worse things with only the Judge of the universe watching. TV still reigns as the great life-waster. The main problem with TV is not how much smut is available, though that is a problem. Just the ads are enough to sow fertile seeds of greed and lust, no matter what program you’re watching. The greater problem is banality. A mind fed daily on TV diminishes. Your mind was made to know and love God. Its facility for this great calling is ruined by excessive TV. The content is so trivial and so shallow that the capacity of the mind to think worthy thoughts withers, and the capacity of the heart to feel deep emotions shrivels. Neil Postman shows why.

What is happening in America is that television is transforming all serious public business into junk.… Television disdains exposition, which is serious, sequential, rational, and complex. It offers instead a mode of discourse in which everything is accessible, simplistic, concrete, and above all, entertaining. As a result, America is the world’s first culture in jeopardy of amusing itself to death.

The Weightlessness of God

Since we all live in a world created by television, it is almost impossible to see what has happened to us. The only hope is to read what people were like in previous centuries. Biographies are a great antidote to cultural myopia and chronological snobbery. We have become almost incapable of handling any great truth reverently and deeply. Magnificent things, especially the glory of God, as David Wells says, rest with a kind of “weightlessness” even on the church.

It is one of the defining marks of Our Time that God is now weightless. I do not mean by this that he is ethereal but rather that he has become unimportant. He rests upon the world so inconsequentially as not to be noticeable. He has lost his saliency for human life. Those who assure the pollsters of their belief in God’s existence may nonetheless consider him less interesting than television, his commands less authoritative than their appetites for affluence and influence, his judgment no more awe-inspiring than the evening news, and his truth less compelling than the advertisers’ sweet fog of flattery and lies. That is weightlessness. It is a condition we have assigned him after having nudged him out to the periphery of our secularized life.… Weightlessness tells us nothing about God but everything about ourselves, about our condition, about our psychological disposition to exclude God from our reality.

Sorting out Sudan and Panty Hose

We have lost our ability to see and savor the complexities of truth and the depths of simplicity. Douglas Groothuis explains the connection between this weakness and television.

The triumph of the televised image over the word contributes to the depthlessness of postmodern sensibilities.… One cannot muse over a television program the way one ponders a character in William Shakespeare or C. S. Lewis, or a Blaise Pascal parable, or a line from a T. S. Eliot poem, such as ‘But our lot crawls between dry ribs / to keep its metaphysics warm.’ No one on television could utter such a line seriously. It would be “bad television”—too abstract, too poetic, too deep, just not entertaining.… [Not only that] but the images appear and disappear and reappear without a proper rational context. An attempt at a sobering news story about slavery in the Sudan is followed by a lively advertisement for Disneyland, followed by an appeal to purchase panty hose that will make any woman irresistible, etc., ad nauseum.

Therefore the man who stands before God with his well-kept avoidance ethic and his protest that he did not spend too much time at the office but came home and watched TV with his family will probably not escape the indictment that he wasted his life. Jesus rebuked his disciples with words that easily apply to this man: “Even sinners work hard, avoid gross sin, watch TV at night, and do fun stuff on the weekend. What more are you doing than the others?” (see Luke 6:32–34; Matthew 5:47).[2]

 

---------------------------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] John MacArthur F., Jr., The Vanishing Conscience, Electronic ed. (Dallas: Word Pub., 1994), 231.

[2] John Piper, Don’t Waste Your Life (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books, 2003), 119–122.

Tuesday, May 17, 2022

Why Are You Angry? An All Encompassing Practice to Make Things Right – Purity 733

 

Why Are You Angry? An All Encompassing Practice to Make Things Right – Purity 733

Purity 733 05/17/2022 Purity 733 Podcast

Good morning,

Today’s photo of a ethereal cirrus cloud formation in a blue sky above a stand of trees and a field of green comes to us from yours truly as I decided to capture this stunning scene while I decided to “do what was right” and take our canine border, Harley, for a walk on Friday afternoon along Waite Rd near my countryside home.

After a week of work I looked forward to resting but I knew that even though I could just put the dog out in the backyard on his run, a good dog owner and steward to what was entrusted to him would go beyond the minimum qualification of service and give the dog an opportunity to stretch his legs.  Although he was very enthusiastic when we initially set out,  Harley’s panting confirmed the fact that the afternoon was a hot one and I think he was as glad as I was when the walk was over and we returned to the house to rest.   

Lately, I have been convicted by the wisdom of “doing what is right” in any and all the areas of my life as an instruction for my walk of faith. “What would Jesus Do?” is a question that has been seriously considered by me and the answer of course is that “He would do what is right and He would do “what is right” in all the areas of His life.”

I came to this realization because I am constantly examining my life and I try to make things better.  I am continually seeking wisdom from God’s word and other Christians who have shared what they have learned from their studies of the Scriptures and how they have applied them to their lives.  

This latest “eureka” moment to “do what is right”, duh” came in part through the struggles I have had trying to forsake my occasional binges of candy and ice cream and the study of Jay Adam’s “Competent to Counsel”. 

I realized that when I indulged in the occasional “cheat day” from my diet, I was cheating myself. Not only did my increase caloric/carb/sugar intake disrupt the harmony that I had established in my body, it also negatively impacted my emotions as I would “feel bad” about having compromised my health goals. 

So why not avoid “feeling bad” by doing what is right?  The indulgence isn’t worth the negative effects so why not give up the indulgence and keep the peace and harmony that comes from knowing that I am taking care of myself by choosing to do the right thing? 

I am not the sharpest tool in the shed but I am beginning to let this simple wisdom permeate into my thick skull and be expressed in how I live and I feel that I may have turned a corner and begun the work of dismantling a pattern of thought and behavior that wasn’t good for me.   Reading Adam’s Competent to Counsel has really helped to remind me of the value of our obedience and the impact of our actions.

While my experience in overcoming my personal struggles through discipleship practices and my training in  Dr. Neil Anderson’s “Discipleship Counseling” techniques had put the emphasis on knowing who we are in Christ, living according to it, and allowing our thoughts to transform our emotional lives,  Adam’s work covers similar ground but puts forth the truth that actions also impact our emotional lives.  Drawing from the wisdom of God’s advice in

Genesis 4:6-7 (NKJV)  where
6  …the LORD said to Cain, "Why are you angry? And why has your countenance fallen?
7  If you do well, will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well, sin lies at the door. And its desire is for you, but you should rule over it."

Adams points out that God in saying “if you do well”, God is telling Cain to “do what is right”, instead of what is wrong, that sin that is lying at the door to trip you up.  If you do what is right, you won’t be angry, your countenance will not be fallen, you won’t be depressed. 

Our concept of sin can sometimes be legalistic. We can think of sin as breaking laws. But sin is actually “missing the mark”, not hitting that bullseye of what God would have us do.  

And why does God want us to do things in a certain way?  Because He loves us. He made us and He has perfect knowledge.  He knows what is best for us. So we should heed His advice, and obey what He says.

When we obey “God’s law”, which in the Hebrew is also can be defined as “God’s instruction”,  we benefit from His wisdom. 

And this principle of “doing what is right”, transcends all things.  Beyond the 10 commandments, the idea of doing what is right touches every area of our lives.

Basic principles like “cleaning up after yourself”, “putting things in their place”, “keeping things neat and in order” or “being a good steward to the things entrusted to us” are all things we can do as an expression of our love for God. We appreciate what He has given us in our lives so we are going to thank Him by taking care of them and ourselves by “doing what is right”.  

Of course, the spirit in which we approach this all encompassing practice is very important.  If we attempt this practice by viewing it as an obligation, we will be just as angry as Cain because our hearts and minds won’t be in it.  

But if we decide to “start doing what is right” as an act of faith, as an expression of our love for God and thankfulness for what He has given us, we can not only see the wisdom behind “What Jesus would Do” but we can experience the peace that comes from not having a conflict in our consciences that comes from “knowing what we should do” and not doing it.  

Also our decision to “do what is right” will solve problems and change the atmosphere around us.  When we “clean up the messes” in our life, we see that our actions matter and that our efforts have rewards. Our continual commitment to live skillfully as an expression of our faith and as a part of our relationship with God results in growth and produces progress. Our patience grows. Our self-control grows. And prayerfully, if we see the love that lies behind the wisdom that God tried to impart to us in one of the earlies portions of the Bible, our love for God will grow.

When this practice of “doing what’cha gotta do” moment to moment is performed as an expression of our love and gratitude to God, we can realize we really are walking in the Spirit. We have gone to the “next level”, from just “knowing what we believe and why we believe it” to knowing the Lord and trusting that doing what He would have us do is not only right but it is for our good and for the good of everyone we will come in contact with as the peace we have and the love that we know has the potential to pour into the lives of other as well.  

So “do what’cha gotta do” and keep walking and talking with God, and feel good about it.  Your “doing what is right” will be blessed by your Heavenly Father.  When you do well, you won’t feel angry and won’t be depressed because you will know that you are doing what you were designed to do and that you have discovered the simple yet profound meaning and purpose for your life.

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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:

1 Peter 2:12 (NLT2)
12  Be careful to live properly among your unbelieving neighbors. Then even if they accuse you of doing wrong, they will see your honorable behavior, and they will give honor to God when he judges the world.

Today’s Bible verse encourages us to live properly among our unbelieving neighbors as an expression of our faith.   

So if we needed another scripture verse on “doing what is right” you can add 1 Peter 2:12 to the list.  These verses in scripture remind us that our faith was never supposed to be just a mental cataloging of things we believe that is only demonstrated once a week by sitting through a worship service.  

Our faith is supposed to impact the way we live our lives and in turn to impact the lives of those around us. 

As today’s verse points out, we are to live properly even among our unbelieving neighbors as an act of bearing witness to the fact that God has changed our lives.  Not only will our living properly keep us from any accusations of wrong doing, our living according to God’s wisdom and ways gives glory to Him as our unbelieving neighbors will have no choice to admit that our “walk” as Christians matchers our “talk”.  

This verse concludes with a reminder that God will judge the world and so it motivates us to live for God. It matters how we live as not only will our obedience to God’s way be rewarded by our Heavenly Father, but our faithfulness to live according to Christian principles could be used by God to bring people to consider the Christian faith and in turn make Jesus their Lord an Savior.

Our actions matter. Our efforts to live properly can not only give us the peace that comes from living a righteous life but they also are a witness to the nonbeliever of the truth of our faith, give glory to God, and can be used to expand His kingdom.   So be careful to live properly as way to express your love and gratefulness to God and to bring Honor to 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 John Piper’s “Don’t Waste Your Life”.  

As always, I share this information for educational purposes and encourage all to purchase John Pipers’ books for your own private study and to support his work.  This resource is available on many websites for less than $5.00.

When a Bobby Pin Mattered

We have seen the sacrifices that military people made in wartime during World War II. But it wasn’t just the military that changed its priorities. The whole country did, just like the whole church could today. During World War II,

the entire nation … seemed overnight to have snapped out of its Depression-era lethargy. Everyone scrambled to be of help. Rubber was needed for the war effort, and gasoline, and metal. A women’s basketball game at Northwestern University was stopped so that the referee and all ten players could scour the floor for a lost bobby pin. Americans pitched in to support strict rationing programs and their boys turned out as volunteers in various collection “drives.” Soon butter and milk were restricted along with canned goods and meat. Shoes became scarce, and paper, and silk. People grew “victory gardens” and drove at the gas-saving “victory speed” of thirty-five miles an hour. “Use it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without?” became a popular slogan. Air-raid sirens and blackouts were scrupulously obeyed. America sacrificed.

Such images are for me very powerful. Secondarily, they make me appreciate the benefits of freedom and prosperity. But primarily they rebuke me for my frivolous living and inspire me to make my life count for something more than comfort and worldly success—something God-exalting and eternal.

Yes, Yes, to Talk of War Is Lopsided

But I admit, as I said above, that the term “wartime lifestyle” or “wartime mind-set” is lopsided. After one sermon in which I used these terms one person wrote to me and asked, “When you stress the imagery of wartime living, do you leave any room for aspects of life that are not part of war, like art or leisure? Are there not other images of the Christian life that are more restful than war?”

Here is the answer I gave in my next message:

The answer is, yes, absolutely, there are other images of the Christian life that are more restful. “The Lord is my Shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters” (Psalm 23:1–2). That is a very different image than bombs dropping and blood flowing. “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28). “Even to your old age I am he, and to gray hairs I will carry you. I have made, and I will bear; I will carry and will save” (Isaiah 46:4).

And yes, there is a proper time and place for the Christian to benefit from, evaluate, and transform the whole range of human culture. In fact, it is virtually impossible not to be a part of our modern, Western culture; and if we do not think in terms of measured appropriation, biblical evaluation, and thoughtful transformation, we will probably be consumed by the culture, and won’t even know that we are more American than we are Christian.

So, yes, by all means, use all the images of Scripture (not just war) to shape your life. And then let your radically Christian, God-enthralled, Christ-treasuring, giving-oriented life engage and shape your culture.

But my sense is that in the prosperous West, the danger in the church is not that there are too many overly zealous people who care too deeply about the lost, and invest hazardously in the cause of the Gospel, and ruin their lives with excessive mercy to the poor. For every careless saint who burns himself out and breaks up his family with misdirected zeal, I venture, there are a thousand who coast with the world, treating Jesus like a helpful add-on, but not as an all-satisfying, all-authoritative King in the cause of love.

The Ruinous Ethic of Mere Avoidance

One of the marks of this peacetime mind-set is what I call an avoidance ethic. In wartime we ask different questions about what to do with our lives than we do in peacetime. We ask: What can I do to advance the cause? What can I do to bring the victory? What sacrifice can I make or what risk can I take to insure the joy of triumph? In peacetime we tend to ask, What can I do to be more comfortable? To have more fun? To avoid trouble and, possibly, avoid sin?

If we are going to pay the price and take the risks it will cost to make people glad in God, we move beyond the avoidance ethic. This way of life is utterly inadequate to waken people to the beauty of Christ. Avoiding fearful trouble and forbidden behaviors impresses almost no one. The avoidance ethic by itself is not Christ-commending or God-glorifying. There are many disciplined unbelievers who avoid the same behaviors Christians do. Jesus calls us to something far more radical than that.

The Wrong Questions and the Right Ones

People who are content with the avoidance ethic generally ask the wrong question about behavior. They ask, What’s wrong with it? What’s wrong with this movie? Or this music? Or this game? Or these companions? Or this way of relaxing? Or this investment? Or this restaurant? Or shopping at this store? What’s wrong with going to the cabin every weekend? Or having a cabin? This kind of question will rarely yield a lifestyle that commends Christ as all-satisfying and makes people glad in God. It simply results in a list of don’ts. It feeds the avoidance ethic.

The better questions to ask about possible behaviors is: How will this help me treasure Christ more? How will it help me show that I do treasure Christ? How will it help me know Christ or display Christ? The Bible says, “Whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God” (1 Corinthians 10:31). So the question is mainly positive, not negative. How can I portray God as glorious in this action? How can I enjoy making much of him in this behavior?[1]

 

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

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Encouragement for the Path of Christian Discipleship



[1] John Piper, Don’t Waste Your Life (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books, 2003), 116–119.