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Thursday, November 18, 2021

Like Fredo, I’m Smaart and I say that’s RIDICULOUS! – Answers in Christ - Purity 579


Like Fredo, I’m Smaart and I say that’s RIDICULOUS! – Answers in Christ - Purity 579

Purity 579 11/18/2021  Purity 579 Podcast

Good morning

Today’s photo of the front of a kayak gliding over the waters of Lake George with the sky and clouds above reflected on the surface of the lake and with the trees on the shoreline displaying early Autumn glory comes to us from a friend who shared a scene from a paddling excursion back in early October. 

As chance would have it my phone was turned back about a month in my photos section as I was searching for a particular photo last evening, so when I looked for a photo of a pathway or road to represent journeying down the path of Christian discipleship this morning I came across this one and immediately decided to share it today because it’s a great pic and it adequately portrays the idea of peacefully moving forward and making progress that is characteristic of “walking in the Spirit”. 

Today is Thursday and I am equally thrilled and saddened to announce that I will be facilitating the last class in the Freedom in Christ Discipleship Course this evening at Rock Solid Church and will be uploading the last podcast version installment of the class later today.  

When I developed the schedule for this year’s teaching back in the spring I purposely placed the Freedom in Christ Course to end the week before Thanksgiving because I thought presenting a class about establishing and maintaining our Freedom in Christ was a great way to transition from Labor Day to the holiday season.  And what a transition it has been! 

Not only has the material been impactful for the local students and podcast listeners, but it has also served to edify the facilitator as well as I have become comfortable enough to step out in faith and volunteer to facilitate zoom classes of the Freedom in Christ Course for Freedom in Christ Ministries in 2022.

 I haven’t gotten confirmation yet, but I have submitted a preferred timeline of classes to the FICM coordinators that will encompass 2 sessions, one in the winter from early January to March, and another in the spring from April to June.  My approval is pending so I cannot announce that this will come to pass but I have been asked about the possibility of leading a men’s group of the class and about my preferences for which day I would choose to teach, good signs that mean absolutely nothing. 

But you know what?  Whether or not I am chosen to facilitate classes next year for FICM, I know that I was faithful to what I perceive to be a call from God to step out and volunteer.   

As I stated my belief in the Sovereign God that is alive and well and described in the Bible yesterday, I know that the things that come to pass are His will, either His permissive will or His explicit will, and that He works all things together for the good of those who love Him and are called according to His purpose.  

So whether or not I am called according to the purpose of teaching for FICM in 2022 will be a part of His plan, regardless of if my request is accepted or rejected.  

And this situation, my stepping out in faith and saying, “Send Me!” but not knowing the what the outcome will be, aka if it is the Lord’s will to send me or not, is what “walking in the Spirit” or living the life of a disciple of Christ is all about.  

Our knowledge of the Lord’s will for our lives is not perfect. But guess what? There is a whole lot about God that we do know and is not just a matter of preference or opinion.  

We know the truth of salvation through faith in Jesus Christ  alone.  

We know that the Bible is the inspired word of God and is living and valuable for our instruction and correction.   

When we know these two things and place our faith in Jesus Christ – Ha Ha – if you thought I was going to let you go with just knowing facts and not committing your life to Christ you got another thing coming! - 

When we know these things and make our Christ Lord and Savior and commit our lives to follow Him, we are made spiritually alive, assured of our place in the kingdom of God for all eternity, and  then we get to enter into the mystery of our faith in terms of knowing who God is, who we are as His adopted spiritually alive children, and what we are called to do with the lives that God gave us to live out here on the earth!

Our faith in Christ makes us alive forever and that life starts the moment we put our faith in Him.   

The journey of our faith lies in discovering who we are in Christ, experiencing our freedom in Christ - which encompasses our freedom over sin and death and our freedom to do His will, and our journey includes discovering our purpose for God and to live it out moment to moment as an expression of God’s wisdom and love.     

After my testimony yesterday I received a negative comment that told me that my “beliefs” were RIDICULOUS, all caps, and I was challenged to produce evidence for God that could somehow convince this angry commenter.  

But the thing is, while they spoke of how they “prefer” to “believe” a god (small g) who x,y, and z’s   - I KNOW (all caps) the living God – who made me and saved me. 

I don’t have to convince anybody because God convinced me, personally, by pulling me out of the darkness of my former life that included an extended period atheism and participation in Eastern Mysticism and the ways of the world.     No intellectual evidence ever convinced me because my heart was set on doing things according to my sinful desires and I was spiritually blind.  

The word says that the gospel of Jesus Christ is foolishness to those who are perishing.  So when someone tells me that my “beliefs” about God which are based on the Word of God are “RIDICULOUS”, all caps,  I know that like me in the past – they are also spiritually blind and, cue the really scary music, are perishing!  

So if what I write about regarding God and the Christian faith seems ridiculous to you,  I hear you. I used to be you.  But after 38 years of living according to my whims and ways, with so much intellectual wisdom of the ways of the world – like Fredo in the Godfather- I thought I was SMAAART,  I took a wallop of the world’s suffering and decided to seek the Truth to see if there was something more than this world that is slowly fading to black. 

And although I was “looking for love” and truth in all the wrong places, the Author of Truth, God Almighty, revealed the Truth to me in a simple gospel message that led me to put my faith in Christ and allowed me to have a personal relationship with God through Him.   

I know that might sound ridiculous, but I encourage you to not rely on someone else to convince you of the truth of the gospel of Jesus Christ or the existence of God, Really?, but to take personal responsibility for your spiritual destiny by seeking the Truth and by seeking God for yourself.  

The word says that if you seek God, you will find Him. And I for one can tell you that even though finding Him will undoubtedly disrupt your life, finding God and placing your faith in Jesus Christ to be a part of His royal family is a GOOD THING, all caps, and is worth the search and all the trouble that is promised to come to you when you come into His kingdom.  

The world hated Jesus so it undoubtedly will hate you too. But Christ overcame the world and gives those who place their faith in Him the power to overcome all our personal darkness and the adversity of the world and to peacefully move forward and make progress into the meaning and purpose that the Creator of the universe has planned for you.  

So either start or keep walking and talking with God. The going may be rough at first but when you come into harmony with God through placing your faith in Jesus and living according to His ways you will discover that peace and joy are possible no matter what circumstances you will have to face.


Today’s Bible verse is drawn from “The NLT Bible Promise Book for Men”.  

This morning’s meditation verse is :

Psalm 18:30 (NLT2)
30  God’s way is perfect. All the LORD’s promises prove true. He is a shield for all who look to him for protection.

 

Today’s verse assures us that God’s way is indeed perfect and His promises are true and protects those who look to Him.  

I love the Lord so much! Yesterday my testimony of being protected by Him when I made a mistake and almost got into an accident was met with ire and derision like you would not believe. Look on r/Christianity on Reddit for the specific comments on yesterday’s post to see the gems that I am referring to.

But I didn’t take offense by those comments that basically told me to be careful, and to ashamed of my human frailty?,  and that challenged my view of a Sovereign God that shapes the courses of events that could “work all things together for good for those who love Him” by protecting us through His providence.  

Those commenting seemed angry at the idea that God would choose to protect some one who made a mistake.  I mean come on guys I made a mistake but took the right action to correct it! My foot slipped off the brake! But God worked it for good by protecting me and If it didn’t there would have been no testimony of God’s providential goodness.

One commentor sought to challenge my assertion of protection by calling up doubts of God’s miraculous intervention.  But guess what?  I didn’t claim a miracle.  I didn’t claim supernatural intervention.  I claimed something that was not as dramatic as that but if considered is even far more amazing.  I claimed that ALL the things that happen in the universe fall under God’s will, either His explicit will or His permissive will.  

God’s in control and even though bad and evil things happen, and people suffer, evil will be put in its place and those who humbly and loyally align themselves with their  Creator by placing their faith in Christ will receive the ultimate protection of life eternal.

All the hard questions are answered in Christ. 

And as today’s verse assures us today: God’s ways are perfect. All His promises prove true. 

AND He is a WHAT? A SHEILD, all caps, for those who WHAT look to Him for WHAT? PROTECTION!!! All Caps and and three exclamation points.  

Oh and yesterday’s testimony did not include – my literal cry for the Lord’s help – which  was probably something like “Oh God! Help Me!” literally said by me before my near miss.   And God obviously answered that prayer. 

I know… Go ahead – send your negative comments about not believing in answered prayers – but the fact remains I follow the Lord and through His providential shaping of the events of time and space did receive grace (God’s favor) and mercy (not getting what I deserved) when I “looked” and called out to Him.  

And although I didn’t defend myself against the negative comments about my beliefs in God’s protection,  God providentially provided an evidence verse from His inspired word this morning that tells us that He does indeed act as a shield to those who look  to Him for protection.  

Goose bumps, man!

God is alive and working in the world but if you doubt and don’t believe or choose to not follow, you will not see it.   

If you think I hand craft these messages to push an agenda to “convince you” of the reality of God, you don’t know my schedule. I barely have time to get these messages out and honestly don’t know what I am going to write and say until its written and said.  

And if you think, I arranged today’s verse purposefully, again you don’t know me, but more tragically you don’t fully know who God is and how He can arrange things all by Himself.  

So Trust that His ways are perfect and that His promises are true. And follow Him and when you need that shield, brother and sister,  look to Him for protection. 

You may not always avoid heart ache, pain ,and suffering, but when you walk with God you might. And even if you don’t God will provide you with the strength to overcome what ever you do suffer.  

His ways are perfect. So go and follow Him into the purpose He has for your life.  

 

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

 

Today we continue sharing from June Hunt’s “Evil and Suffering… Why? Is God Fair?

 

As always, I share this information for educational purposes and encourage all to purchase June Hunt’s books for your own private study and to support her work.

 

III. Causes For Evil And Suffering In The World

What part does God play in this pain-filled world? Does God bear all responsibility, some responsibility, or no responsibility? Many blame God for all the pain in this world, stating something like this: "An all-powerful God, responsible for creating the world, must also bear responsibility for causing all the pain in the world." Others jump to the defense of God: "An all-loving God would never cause suffering—much less condone it." Clearly, God does not cause all suffering. But those who try to "get God off the hook" for any pain and suffering have a mistaken mindset. Based on the sovereignty of God, our Almighty God even says about Himself...

"See now that I myself am He! There is no god besides me. I put to death and I bring to life, I have wounded and I will heal, and no one can deliver out of my hand." (Deuteronomy 32:39)

A. What Is the Cause of Evil and Suffering?

There is no single clear cause for the evil and suffering in the world ... many variables can be involved. Therefore, several factors have to be considered in answering this question. However, it is clear that evil and suffering are the result of at least 5 different elements that may occur independently or in conjunction with one another. Ultimately, evil and suffering are...

#1. The result of our choices

Because Adam and Eve made the choice not to obey God, they were expelled from their perfect environment to be subjected to suffering in an imperfect world.

"The Lord God banished him from the Garden of Eden to work the ground from which he had been taken." (Genesis 3:23)

#2. The result of the choices of others

Because of Adam and Eve's choice to sin, all humanity is subjected to the consequences of their choice—suffering in an imperfect world.

"Just as the result of one trespass was condemnation for all men, so also the result of one act of righteousness was justification that brings life for all men." (Romans 5:18)

#3. The result of some evil spirit beings

Because "the evil one," Satan, channeled himself into the serpent, he deceived Eve and enticed her to sin.

"'You will not surely die,' the serpent said to the woman. 'For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.' When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it." (Genesis 3:4-6)

#4. The result of natural order

Because of "the fall," there is natural pain and deterioration including natural disasters that impact all humanity.

"To the woman he said, 'I will greatly increase your pains in childbearing; with pain you will give birth to children. Your desire will be for your husband, and he will rule over you.' To Adam he said, 'Because you listened to your wife and ate from the tree about which I commanded you, "You must not eat of it," Cursed is the ground because of you; through painful toil you will eat of it all the days of your life.'" (Genesis 3:16-17)

#5. The result of God's permissive will

Because God gave Adam and Eve free will—the choice to obey or disobey—God permitted them to go against His will, and they suffered for it.

"The Lord God commanded the man 'You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat of it you will surely die.'" (Genesis 2:16-17)

 

Question: "Why do people have to go through suffering in this life?"

Answer: Adam's choice to sin changed him from being innocent to being guilty and his nature from being sinless to being sinful. Therefore, all people have inherited a "sin nature." As a result, we are born spiritually dead in God's eyes, standing in need of spiritual life. Suffering is the by-product of both our sin nature and our subsequent sin.

"As in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive." (1 Corinthians 15:22)

 

Question: "Why does God allow terrible diseases such as cancer and AIDS?"

Answer: Throughout history terrible diseases have afflicted people. What we can cling to in the midst of the suffering these diseases cause is that all suffering in this life is temporary and can drive us to God for comfort and strength.

  • In truth, all of creation suffers from disease and decay in one form or another due to the Fall. Disease is terrible because sin is terrible.
  • Were it not for the corruption of Adam's sin, passed on to all humanity, no one would experience disease.
  • And although all diseases are ultimately a result of our fallen world, were it not for some of our poor choices, we could avoid many diseases related to improper treatment of our bodies and improper use of our bodies.

In the final analysis, we are all destined to die—we just don't know when or how ... but God does ...

"Show me, O Lord, my life's end and the number of my days; let me know how fleeting is my life. You have made my days a mere handbreadth; the span of my years is as nothing before you. Each man's life is but a breath." (Psalm 39:4-5)

 

Question: "Why do some people die at an early age while others live to be more than 100 years old?"

Answer: The potter has power over the clay to form, to shape, and to break for his purposes ... and so does the Creator over His creation.

  • The Lord plans and carries out His plans for each of His people.
  • Some are designed and equipped for length of days and some for brevity of days.

It is not the time you have on earth that is critical, but how the time is lived out and who you allow to have control of your life: yourself, another person, the enemy (Satan)—or the Lord ...

"Your eyes saw my unformed body. All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be." (Psalm 139:16)

 

Question: "Is a birth defect or the death of a baby the result of a parent's sin?"

Answer: Sometimes yes, sometimes no. In some situations, deformities and defects are the direct result of parents' destructive choices.

  • Parents who abuse their bodies with drugs or who carry diseases within their bodies cannot expect their offspring to be unaffected.
  • Sometimes moral sins, alcohol, and medications can permanently damage unborn babies.
  • Even the emotional and mental state of a pregnant woman affects the chemical makeup of her unborn child. In the case of King David and Bathsheba's firstborn child, the sin of the parents resulted not only in an illness, but also in the death of their baby (Read 2 Samuel chapter 12).
  • We live in a world broken by sin. That brokenness extends from the spiritual world to the physical world ... even to precious children, who are part of this broken world.

In other cases, deformities and defects are intended to glorify God ...

"His disciples asked him, 'Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?' 'Neither this man nor his parents sinned,' said Jesus, 'but this happened so that the work of God might be displayed in his life.'" (John 9:2-3)

 

Question: "Since my life is in such a mess, could God be punishing me for something?"

Answer: If you are a Christian, He may be disciplining you. If you are not a Christian, He may be using circumstances to demonstrate your need for Him. Both Christians and non-Christians experience the consequences for poor choices. (Read Hebrews 12:5-11.)

  • —"Punishment" has implications of revenge. God's "revenge" for our sins has already been poured out on the person of Jesus at Calvary. God does not "punish" His children.
  • —"Discipline" is a loving action that is intended to change our direction so that we are headed in a way that is beneficial.

"In your struggle against sin, you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood. And you have forgotten that word of encouragement that addresses you as sons: 'My son, do not make light of the Lord's discipline, and do not lose heart when he rebukes you.'" (Hebrews 12:4-5)


Biblical Counseling Keys: Evil and Suffering... Why?: Why God? Why?.

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

 

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