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Showing posts with label 1 Corinthians. Show all posts
Showing posts with label 1 Corinthians. Show all posts

Monday, October 4, 2021

Blue, Are they a Christian Here or There? – Checking the Clues 5 - Purity 540


 

Blue, Are they a Christian Here or There?  – Checking the Clues 5   - Purity 540

Purity 540 10/02/2021  Purity 540 Podcast

Good morning

Today’s photo looking out at Maria Island from the vantage point of Raspins, Beach comes to us from our friends at Dave Baun Photography who captured this stunning view on the first day of their recent vacation in Tasmania. In his comments Dave questioned whether or not he was able to truly capture how amazing the view was, but he encouraged his friends to go and visit Tasmania to check it out for themselves.

Dave’s encouragement to his friends to go see the sights in Tasmania points to the fact that “seeing is believing”, that to truly understand or “know” something, we have to experience it firsthand.  

In the Bible, when Jesus noticed two of John the Baptist’s disciples following Him, He asked them, “What do you seek?”. When they replied them wanted to know where He was staying, Jesus invited them to “Come and See.” Knowing that these curious disciples wanted to know more than just what His accommodations were like, Christ’s response challenged them to commit themselves to follow Him.  The disciples accepted Christ’s invitation and thus started the journey that would result in their selection as Apostles and the worldwide spread of Christianity. In order to know the Truth of God’s Word and the transformative power of the gospel of Jesus Christ, we all must choose to follow after Christ and “come and see” it for ourselves.  We can’t live vicariously through someone else’s faith in Christ, we must make Him our Lord and Savior and choose to follow Him by ourselves.  

Well it’s Monday and as I chose to contemplate what “clue” of the Christian faith we should investigate this morning, Blue, the precocious star of children’s television now living in my imagination, introduced me to a friend that was going to lead us into a whole new line of inquiry. The friend is a funny little man with a red hat that who introduced himself as “Sam.” Maybe because Blue clued him in that my hearing isn’t the greatest, he repeated his introduction by saying: “Sam I am”.  

Sam’s first question was simple but when I considered it in terms of the authenticity of someone’s Christian faith, it proved to be quite profound and probing.  In considering someone’s Christian faith, Sam invited us to consider the person and ask ourselves:

Are they a Christian, here or there?    

While the full scope of this question will be considered in the days ahead, Blue indicated that we should examine it in just the context of where we found ourselves this Monday morning.  

Yesterday being Sunday as the “Lord’s Day” was the day where Christians all over the world traditionally gather for corporate worship. Today being Monday, most people generally go back to their “normal routines” or home life.

So with the question of “here or there”, Blue and I decided just to look at it from the perspective of the transition of these two days., Sunday and Monday, and two places, “church” as a generic term for the place of worship or corporate gathering, and “home” as a general term for life outside of that corporate gathering place.  

As a reminder, our investigation into the authenticity of someone’s Christian faith is motivated by selecting a Christian life partner and choosing someone to spend our lives with who isn’t a “wolf in sheep’s clothing”.  

So the question today is: Is the person we are interested in a “Christian” just on Sunday and just at church?  Or are they a Christian both “here or there”?

Now while everybody tends to display more attributes of their Christianity on Sunday and at “church”, consider how dramatic a difference there is in your potential mate’s “Christianity” on the days of worship versus the other days of the week as well as between their attitudes and behaviors “in the church building” and in the comforts in their home. 

Would you know that your potential mate is a Christian if it wasn’t Sunday?

Would you know that they were a Christian if they didn’t “go to church?”   

The more dramatic a shift from the sacred to the secular the more likely the possibility that the person you are interested in has “little faith”, or quite possibly “no faith” as they could just be “going through the motions” of “religion” and have not established a relationship with God by making Jesus their Lord and Savior.   

Now while we could go on and on with our speculations about a person who seems to shift from the sacred to the secular with a jarring rapidity that could give us whiplash, instead of looking at “our neighbor” and potential mate’s questionable faith, it might be a good idea to ask ourselves what we are looking for in a “Christian” mate or what we are willing to settle for.  

As someone who knows the benefits of a Christian disciple’s lifestyle and encourages people to live by faith and follow the Lord by “living in the Spirit”, I know that there is a wide range of faith levels within the body of Christ, from those with little or immature faith to those with “great” or mature faith.  

So what do you want?

Do you want someone who just goes through the motions or will just “go with you to church”  or do you want something more?

Our Lord and our imaginary friends, Blue and “Sam I am”, really have a way of making us think!   Our investigation of someone’s Christian authenticity makes us not only question what we are seeing in their faith lives, it also requires us to know who we are in Christ and to know what we are looking for.  

If we are truly following the Lord Jesus to “come and see” what He has for our lives, we have to make sure our own shifts from the “sacred to the secular” aren’t so dramatic. We can’t rightly judge and expect others to have a faith level that we haven’t experienced ourselves. Otherwise, they would have the right to question why they should be with us!  

The “clue” of what someone’s faith is like “here or there” is a good one. If we want a “real Christian” as a life partner, we will want to find someone who wasn’t as different as Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde from Sunday to Monday, or from “in church” and “out of church”,  because if someone really is a disciple of Christ they will seek to follow Him all the days of their lives and in all sorts of environments.  Authentic Christians would seek to represent the kingdom of God every day and every where they go.  

But we must also examine ourselves and decide if we are for “real” and make decisions on how much faith is “too little faith” for the person that we will spend the rest of our lives with.   

So keep walking and talking with God. Know who you are in Christ and what you want in a Christian life partner.  Relationships can be a lot of work in and of themselves and having “enough faith for two” was never a burden the Lord wants to put on us.   So use the eyes, ears, and mind that the Lord gave you to examine the attitudes and behaviors of those you are interested in to discern what their faith level seems to be and make an informed decision when choosing the one who will walk with you from here to eternity.  

 

 

This morning’s meditation verse is:

1 Corinthians 6:19 (NKJV)
19  Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own?

Today’s verse indicates that Christians have the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit in their bodies and that their bodies are to be used for His glory.  

If we are to consider today’s verse seriously, we will be convinced that the Holy Spirit is in us and that we are to care for our bodies and surrender our bodies to the Lord’s purposes.  

So should we get tattoos or piercings? Should we have abortions? Should we overeat? 

Are any of these things going to give God glory?  Or are these things examples of ways that we decide that we don’t agree with today’s verse and will choose things that may not be according to God’s perfect will for our lives. 

The first step of Christian Discipleship is to choose to believe that God’s Word is true. The second step is to live by it.  

I am pressed for time today so I will let the listener to consider those questions and ask themselves: Is my body the temple of the Holy Spirit? How should I treat it? What would God want me to do with it in these areas.  

In this word we have free will and liberty in Christ, but as Christians we should consider what we do according to the fact that our bodies are not our own and that God has written His word to guide us in our decisions regarding them.

So use your body for the Lord’s glory and choose the best course for your decisions with the Lord’s wisdom in mind. 

 

 

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 to share from June Hunt’s The Blended Family’s God’s Recipe for Success.

 

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. If you need this title you can find it online at several sites for less than $5.00:

IV. Steps to Solution

Let's face it, some of us will never make the perfect chocolate souffle... no matter how hard we try. But that doesn't mean we can't produce something wonderfully good! Does it really matter if the coconut cake slopes ever so slightly or the peach ice cream never sets up very hard? The important thing is to keep on trying when you feel like giving up. Stick close to God's recipe for loving others, and He will bless your efforts.

"Commit to the Lord whatever you do, and your plans will succeed." (Proverbs 16:3)

A. Key Verse to Memorize

"Let us therefore make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification." (Romans 14:19)

B. Key Passage to Read and Reread

Colossians 3:12-15

  • Know that you are chosen by God.... v. 12
  • Realize that you are loved by God.... v. 12
  • Reflect the character of Christ (compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience).... v. 12
  • Lift up and support each other.... v. 13
  • Forgive those who offend you.... v. 13
  • Act in love.... v. 14
  • Know that love builds unity.... v. 14
  • Live in peace with one another.... v. 15
  • Have a thankful heart.... v. 15

"As God's chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity. Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful." (Colossians 3:12-15)

C. Remarriage Readiness Test

  • Do you understand why you married your first partner?
  • Have you recognized and confessed your part in the broken marriage?
  • Was there an honest attempt to work through the relational problems in your first marriage?
  • Have you learned to be content as a single?
  • Have you developed a healthy identity as a single or a single parent?
  • Are you capable of being responsible with your finances?
  • Have you determined why you desire to remarry?
  • Do your children have a healthy, well-working plan of visitation with their other parent?
  • Have you considered and consulted your children regarding their feelings about your remarriage?
  • Have you given up the unrealistic dream of an "ideal family"?
  • Have you committed to remarriage only with someone who has a personal commitment to Jesus Christ?
  • Have you made the issue of remarriage a matter of prayer, and are you seeking God's will for your life?

"Understanding is a fountain of life to those who have it, but folly brings punishment to fools." (Proverbs 16:22)

Biblical Counseling Keys: The Blended Family: God's Recipe for Success.

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

 

 

 

Join our “Victory over the Darkness” or “The Bondage Breaker” 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. 

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

 

Encouragement for the Path of Christian Discipleship

Friday, August 6, 2021

I Ain’t Got No Where Else to Go! - Yes and Amen to All You Say, Lord - Purity 490


 I Ain’t Got No Where Else to Go! -  Yes and Amen to All You Say, Lord         

Purity 490 08/06/2021  Purity 490 Podcast

Good morning

 

Thank God it is Friday! And while you are at it you can thank Jesus and the Holy Spirit too.   I’m especially chipper this morning because after last night’s discipleship class, I am sure of my purpose and have determined to be true to my calling and will go forward with my plans to teach the 11 week “Freedom in Christ” Course at Rock Solid Church from September 9th to November 18th, taking us into the future from Labor Day to Turkey Day.  

With dwindling numbers in my current series, I had contemplated only podcasting the Autumn class but as I have been praying about it I have been more and more convicted to continue with the plans of teaching at the church and to leave the results up to God.  When you seek God’s direction, you discover that sometimes it was actually very simple, be faithful, and very clear, do what you are called to do, but your own fears and insecurities are the only thing clouding the way. 

Speaking of setting out into the clarity of a new day, today’s photo comes to us from a friend’s recent early morning paddling journey towards the sunrise on the shores of Pawtuxet River at the Aspray Boat House in Warwick, Rhode Island. I just love the image of my friend’s companion facing the sun and the glory of the early morning sky and sunrise that just invites all of us to “come and see” what the new day has for us!

Our lives are a journey into the mystery of what God has intended for us to be our purpose. When we align ourselves with His will for our lives we discover the peace and harmony that He wants us to experience.  But the going is not always easy, because we are not always keen on the way we should go and sometimes choose the wrong things to follow.

In last night’s Bondage Breaker lesson, I shared quite a bit on some of the missteps I have taken in my walk with the Lord where I thought I was more than I was and how the experience of trying to discern the truth of God’s word and apply it to my life has been a humbling experience at times over the years.  But the thing is from the moment I heard the gospel message that saved me, I have been determined to follow the truth of God’s word no matter where it would take me, causing me to progressively turn from my worldly ways of darkness to God’s ways of wisdom and love.

This morning in contemplating my journey, I was reminded of the scene in An Officer and a Gentleman where the drill Sargent, played by Louis Gossett Jr, threatens to expel Richard Gere’s character, Zack Mayo, from the service, saying “You’re out!”  causing Mayo to erupt in an emotional catharsis to keep his spot: saying: 

“Don’t you do it! Don’t! You! I ain’t got no where else to go!  I got no where else to go! I ain’t got nothing else….”    (To see that Gere and Gossett’s Oscar winning performance in that scene go to: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6g2JN2PrHJg).  Its that attitude of desperation and desire that causes me to continue to seek the Lord and follow where He leads.  

That sentiment has been placed in the hearts of believers who decide to walk the path of Christian Discipleship since the days of Christ’s earthly ministry, most vividly shown in scripture by the Apostle Peter’s response when others began to walk away from Jesus.  

John 6:67-69 (NKJV)
67 Then Jesus said to the twelve, "Do you also want to go away?"
68 But Simon Peter answered Him, "Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.
69 Also we have come to believe and know that You are the Christ, the Son of the living God."

As much as the original Apostles failed to fully understand all that Jesus was trying to teach them, they all knew that they had no where else to go. They weren’t following an ideology or a philosophy. They were following the Word made flesh. They weren’t trying to show how good they were by keeping a bunch of rules.  They were following the Son of God.   Even though they didn’t understand all that He said, their reason for all they did, serving and declaring the gospel until there was no earthly life in them, was because they understood who Jesus is: God the Son.    

So trust that Jesus is who He said He was.  There are generations of believers that have gone before us whose lives were transformed by their relationship with Him and proclaimed Him as the truth, the way, and the life.  

Jesus doesn’t force anyone to go with Him though, He only invites us to “Come and see.” But when we accept Christ’s invitation to a new eternal abundant life, by making Him our Lord and Savior, we “see heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of Man.” with the Holy Spirit confirming in our spirits that not only is Christ the King of King and Lord of Lords but confirming that we are welcomed in as beloved children of God and co-heirs with Him in His royal family.   

So remember who you are in Christ, or take the first step to discover it, by saying “Yes and Amen” to all that the Lord has for you.    

 

(There is more content to help you walk out your journey of faith at MT4Christ dot org. You can also subscribe to the mt4christ247 podcast to hear this message, our discipleship classes, and our weekly Bible Study, on Apple, Google, and Amazon Podcasts, as well as Audible and Podbean).

#Christian #christianity #encouragement #freedominchrist #christiancounseling #jesuschrist #mt4christ #discipleship #victoryoverthedarkness #Christianpodcast #Bondagebreaker #mt4christ247podcast 

This morning’s meditation verse is:

1 Corinthians 6:18 (NKJV)
18 Flee sexual immorality. Every sin that a man does is outside the body, but he who commits sexual immorality sins against his own body.

Today’s verse speaks of the reality of spiritual consequences to the sins of the flesh.  

I think this is like the third verse that we have encountered on fleeing sexual immorality in the last couple of weeks and it highlights God’s will for our lives to be pure in the sexual realm.  Sex is a wonderful gift from God that is intended to be for pleasure and for the expression of love between husband and wife.  Any sex outside of a marriage covenant is “missing the mark” of what God intends for sex to be.  

When we indulge in sex outside of marriage the resultant feelings of shame or guilt when we first lose our virginity tells us that we have done something wrong.  Of course in the throws of ecstasy of sexual pleasure we can easily get over our guilt and shame and rationalize away any feelings of immorality and sink into all kinds of sexual bondage.  

Today’s verse tells us that when we give in to sexual immorality that we sin against our own body pointing to the fact that there are some spiritual, emotional, and physical connections that exist that are difficult to understand.

Other portions of scripture, like the preceding verses in Corinthians 6, tell us that when we have sex with someone we become one flesh and that we can be “joined to a harlot”.  These verses document the existence of sexual soul ties that we create through our sexual encounters. The experiential evidence for these ties is the emotional, physical, and spiritual draw that our old partners have over us, sometimes causing us to obsessively remember old “what’s his/her name” and to desire a reuniting of the flesh.  

The good news is that those soul ties can be broken through renunciation and prayer. Going through Dr, Neil Anderson’s The Step to Freedom in Christ specifically breaks those ties. So if you want to be free of the baggage of your sexual history, you can go to this link (https://static1.squarespace.com/static/56747bae0ab377c98158e42d/t/57ed5d006a49634e0b9b7d0a/1475173632920/Seven+Steps.pdf ) and download a free copy of the Steps and pray through them.    

And that’s how we get freedom over any besetting sin.  We confess our sins to God, agree with what He says about how we are to live, renounce what we have done in the past, and walk on in His ways, by faith in the power of the Holy Spirit, to increasing freedom and sustained victory.  

So don’t take you sins lightly, renew your mind to adopt God’s view of what’s right and wrong, and ask the Lord to give you spiritual discernment to see the darkness of the world system we live in. 

When you see the goodness of God and realize the bondages that we suffer through in a world that calls us to independently of Him, you will draw close to the Lord for His protection, cleansing, and love.    

 

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 with Dr. Neil Anderson’s Victory Over the Darkness, continuing Chapter 10.

 As always, I share this information for educational purposes and encourage all to purchase Dr. Anderson’s books for your own private study and to support his work. If you need this title you can find it online at several sites for less than $15.00:

Don't Ignore the Warning Signs of Your Emotions

The Hammer of Indiscriminate Expression

Another unhealthy way to respond to emotions is to thoughtlessly express everything you feel. Indiscriminately telling anybody and everybody exactly how you feel is usually unhealthy for the other person. The apostle Peter is a great example. Peter was the John Wayne of the New Testament—a real door slammer. He had no problem telling anyone what was on his mind or how he felt. I like to refer to him as the one-legged apostle because he always had one foot in his mouth.

Peter's indiscriminate expression of his emotions got him into trouble more than once. One minute he makes the greatest confession of all time: "Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God" (Matthew 16:16). A few minutes later Peter tells Jesus He doesn't know what He is doing, and Jesus has to rebuke him: "Get behind Me, Satan!" (Matthew 16:22, 23).

It was Peter who missed the point on the Mount of Transfiguration by suggesting they build three tabernacles to honor Moses, Elijah and the Master. It was Peter who impulsively whacked off the ear of Caiaphas's servant during Jesus' arrest in Gethsemane. It was also Peter who promised to follow Jesus anywhere, even to death. Then only hours later Peter swore that he never knew Him. The fact that Peter later became the spokesperson for the Early Church is evidence of the powerful transformation effected by the Holy Spirit.

Indiscriminate expression of emotions may be somewhat healthy for you, but it is usually unhealthy for others around you. "There, I'm glad I got that off my chest," you may say after an outburst. In the process though, you just destroyed your wife, husband or children.

James warned: "But let everyone be quick to hear, slow to speak and slow to anger; for the anger of man does not achieve the righteousness of God" (James 1:19, 20). Paul admonished: "Be angry, and yet do not sin" (Ephes. 4:26). If you wish to be angry and not sin, then be angry the way Christ was: be angry at sin. Turn over the tables; don't attack the money changers.

The Openness of Acknowledgment

Nancy was a college student in another city who drove to Los Angeles to talk to me about her difficult relationship with her mother. We ended up talking about Nancy's inability to express the anger and resentment she felt in the relationship. "My roommate gets to the point sometimes where she just explodes emotionally to let off steam. I have deep feelings, too, but I'm not sure that a Christian is supposed to let off steam."

I opened my Bible to Psalm 109 and read the following verses to her:

O God of my praise, do not be silent! For they have opened the wicked and deceitful mouth against me; they have spoken against me with a lying tongue. They have also surrounded me with words of hatred, and fought against me without cause. In return for my love they act as my accusers; but I am in prayer. Thus they have repaid me evil for good, and hatred for my love.

Appoint a wicked man over him; and let an accuser stand at his right hand. When he is judged, let him come forth guilty; and let his prayer become sin. Let his days be few; let another take his office. Let his children be fatherless, and his wife a widow. Let his children wander about and beg; and let them seek sustenance far from their ruined homes. Let the creditor seize all that he has; and let strangers plunder the product of his labor. Let there be none to extend lovingkindness to him, nor any to be gracious to his fatherless children. Let his posterity be cut off; in a following generation let their name be blotted out (Psalm 109:1-13).

"What's that doing in the Bible?" Nancy gasped. "How could David pray all those evil things about his enemy? How could he talk to God that way? That's pure hatred."

"David's words didn't surprise God," I answered. "God already knew what he was thinking and feeling. David was simply expressing his pain and anger honestly to his God who understood how he felt and accepted him where he was."

After a couple of thoughtful moments Nancy asked, "Does that mean it's okay to do what I do?"

"What do you do?"

"Well," she said, looking slightly embarrassed, "when the pressure builds up inside me, I get in my car and just drive. I scream and holler and shout and kick. When I get back to the dorm, I usually feel much better."

I encouraged Nancy that when she is able to dump her hurt and hatred before God, she probably won't dump it on her roommate or her mother in a destructive way. I also reminded her that David was as honest about his need for God as he was about expressing his feelings. He closed the psalm by praying, "Help me, O Lord my God. . . . With my mouth I will give thanks abundantly to the Lord" (Psalm 109:26, 30).

I think the way David and Nancy acknowledged their feelings is healthy. Perhaps your prayers at times of emotional stress are not very noble, but they are real and honest before God. If you come to your prayer time feeling angry, depressed or frustrated and then mouth a bunch of pious platitudes as if God doesn't know how you feel, do you think He is pleased? Not unless He has changed His opinion about hypocrisy since the time of the Pharisees. The Pharisees tried to look right on the outside while they were far from right on the inside. They weren't real; they were phonies.

Jesus told His disciples, "Unless your righteousness surpasses that of the scribes and Pharisees, you shall not enter the kingdom of heaven" (Matthew 5:20). In God's eyes, if you are not real, you are not right. If necessary, God may have to make you real to make you right with Him.

Acknowledging your emotions as a real person is essential for intimate relationships. You shouldn't let off steam just anywhere in front of just anybody. That is indiscriminate expression, and you run the risk of hurting others more than you help yourself—and that is wrong. The biblical pattern seems to suggest you have three friends you can share with deeply. During his travels, Paul had Barnabas, Silas or Timothy to share with. In the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus expressed His grief to His inner circle of Peter, James and John.

Psychologists tell us it is difficult for people to maintain mental health unless they have at least one person with whom they can be emotionally honest. If you have two or three people like this in your life, you are truly blessed.


Victory Over the Darkness: Realizing the Power of Your Identity in Christ.

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

 

God bless you all!

 

Join our “Victory over the Darkness” or “The Bondage Breaker” 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. 

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

 

                   Encouragement for the Path of Christian Discipleship                                          

Friday, July 30, 2021

Suddenly Mourning – Draw Close to God - Purity 484


 Suddenly Mourning – Draw Close to God  

Purity 484 07/30/2021  Purity 484 Podcast

Good morning

Today’s photo come to us from our friend Shane Onufrock who enjoyed this sunset while on vacation at Ocracoke Island in North Carolina on Tuesday with his dog PJ.  I normally don’t share the names of my friends in my daily posts but in this case I make an exception.  Unfortunately, this is one of the last photos that Shane will take of PJ, as the Onufrock’s beloved four-footed family member was lost to a tragic accident on Wednesday.  Shane expressed how much the shock and pain of this loss has rocked his family with the simple lament “God this hurts so much.”  

I share my friend’s love of his dog and the pain of his loss in hopes that you will join me in praying for comfort and peace for Shane and his family in the wake of this tragic and devastating loss.  As a Christian, I know that God hears our prayers and I know that He can provided us with comfort, peace, and strength to walk through the dark valleys of life. 

I also know that in times of mourning, the best gifts we can give to those who are suffering is our presence and care. We should avoid philosophizing a meaning to the loss and instead just be present and available for our friends who are suffering by listening and offering to help in whatever way we can.  

The cup of suffering will pass to us all at one time or another and the best thing we can do is to foster a deep relationship with God through faith in Jesus Christ and to develop caring friendships of substance that won’t cut and run when the going gets tough.  

Christ Himself knew the pain of loss and wept. God understands our pain and offers us the peace that goes beyond understanding and the strength to walk through to brighter days that are in the distance beyond the shadows of mourning.    

So, be kind to one another, show your appreciation to your friends, your family, and yes even to your pets.  The relationships we cherish in our lives and the love that we have are a gift from God and when walk with Him He can ease our pain when we suffer loss and give us hope for the days ahead and the eternal life that we will share with Him where there will be no more pain, no more tears, no more sorrow, and no more death.

     

This morning’s meditation verse is:

1 Corinthians 6:20 (NKJV)
20 For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God's.

Today’s verse reminds Christians that we belong to God and that our lives are to be a living sacrifice to give Him glory.   

The preceding verses in this section of scripture remind us of the spiritual reality that we are temples of the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit, and we are not to use our bodies for sexual sin.   

In light of our modern society’s liberal views on sex, the biblical guidelines for keeping all sexual activity in the approved confines of marriage has taken a major blow as even professing Christians are involved in sexual relationship or who regularly practice masturbation with no serious conviction or intention to stop their sexual sin.      

Those outside the faith generally agree that if the activity is consensual there is nothing wrong with sex or masturbation.  Christian’s who practice the same sexual activity outside of marriage hold similar views and either dismiss the word of God’s commands to flee sexual immorality or merely lean on the grace of God to cover their multitude of sins with a licentious attitude and the self-admonition that they are powerless to change and they believe sexual purity is impossible.  

However celibacy is possible.   Humorously, a Google search of “Is celibacy possible?” will reveal a good deal of negative articles that question whether celibacy is bad for your physical and mental health but if you scroll through a few of those you will find material that states that people do indeed practice celibacy and recommend it.  And I am actually one of them, although if the right Christian woman would come along I would make her my wife and that change pretty quick.

Listen, before coming to Christ, I had sex that wasn’t under a marriage covenant and masturbated.  No matter how thrilling and pleasurable those experiences were, there was always a measure of guilt and shame that followed, usually right after giving in to sexual temptation.   Why do we feel guilt and shame if we “can do whatever we want”? 

For all mankind, any guilt and shame that we feel in regard to sex outside of marriage is part of our make-up that beyond society’s standards and rules, which are slipping more and every day, God has given each of us a conscience that tells us in our hearts what is right and wrong.   However, we can deaden our conscience with repeated sin.  

For the Christian, we are spiritual made a live with the Holy Spirit’s indwelling presence upon salvation, so we usually feel a higher degree of sensitivity to sin because the Holy Spirit is convicting us to drive us to repentance because our sin is no longer compatible with who we are in Christ.  

However, even the Christian can “quench the Spirit” or “grieve the Holy Spirit” with repeated sin. 

From my own experience as a carnal Christian in the early years of my faith, I can tell you that we can be spiritually blinded to the severity or meaning of our sins and still be convinced that we have “surrendered all to God”.  

But the good news is that if we choose to seek the Lord and deepen our relationship with Him, the Holy Spirit will give us revelations of our spiritual state and draw us and empower us to repentance.   

Today’s verse reminds us that when we made Christ our Lord and Savior we belong to Him now. We have been bought and paid for by the blood of Christ. 

Today’s verse also makes it clear that we are to give our bodies & spirits to the Lord to glorify Him. 

How do we glorify the Lord with our bodies? 

We glorify Him by not giving our bodies as instruments of unrighteousness.

We glorify Him by turning from our sexual sins and any sins that involve the use of our bodies.

But hear me when I say this, you will struggle mightily to obey the “rules” of not sinning on your own.  

Our repentance comes through faith by the power of the Holy Spirit.   

We not only have to believe that God set us free from sin and death when we became His, we also have to live according to that belief.  The best way to live according to our faith is by having a daily spiritual practice in which we draw close to God by reading His word, by maintaining a continuous conversation of prayer with God throughout the day, and by choosing to live according to God’s ways rather than the ways of the world.  

Our victory comes from knowing we are bought and paid for by God, that we are His children now, and by choosing to commune with the Lord to live the life that He has prepared for us.  

 

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 with Dr. Neil Anderson’s Victory Over the Darkness, continuing Chapter 9.

 

As always, I share this information for educational purposes and encourage all to purchase Dr. Anderson’s books for your own private study and to support his work. If you need this title you can find it online at several sites for less than $15.00:

Renewing the Mind

Do we have to remain victims of these mental strongholds for the rest of our lives? Absolutely not! If we have been trained wrong, can we be retrained? If we have learned to believe a lie, can we now choose to believe the truth? If we have programmed our computers wrong, can they be reprogrammed? Absolutely, but we have to want to renew our minds. How? Our lives are transformed as we renew our minds through the hearing of God's Word, Bible studies, personal discipleship and Christ-centered counseling (see Romans 12:2). Because some of these strongholds are thoughts raised against the knowledge of God (see 2 Cor. 10:5), learning to know God as a loving Father and yourself as His accepted child is a starting place.

More is going on in your mind than prior negative conditioning. You are not just up against the world system in which you were raised and the resultant flesh patterns you have chosen to adopt. You are also up against the devil who is scheming to fill your mind with thoughts that are opposed to God's plan for you.

In addition to previous thoughts that formed mental strongholds, we have the present-day responsibility to manage our thoughts according to 2 Cor. 10:5: "We are taking every thought [noema] captive to the obedience of Christ." Why do these thoughts need to be taken captive? Because they are contrary to God's ways and they may be the enemy's thoughts.

Notice how Paul uses the word "thoughts" (noema) in 2 Corinthians in relation to Satan's activity. In 2 Cor. 3:14; and 2 Cor. 4:4, Paul reveals that Satan is behind the spiritual hardness and blindness of unbelievers: "But their minds [noema] were hardened.†.†.†. The god of this world has blinded the minds [noema] of the unbelieving."

Paul also states that Satan is deceiving and dividing believers: "I am afraid, lest as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, your minds [noema] should be led astray from the simplicity and purity of devotion to Christ" (2 Cor. 11:3). We are not ignorant of his [Satan's] schemes [noema]" (2 Cor. 2:11).

Satan's strategy is to introduce his thoughts and ideas into your mind and deceive you into believing they are yours. It happened to King David. Satan "moved David to number Israel" (1 Chron. 21:1), an act God had forbidden, and David acted on Satan's idea. Did Satan manifest himself to David and audibly say, "I want you to number Israel"? I doubt it. David was a godly man and he wouldn't have obeyed Satan. What if Satan slipped the idea into David's mind in first-person singular? What if the thought came to David as, "I need to know how large my army is; I think I'll count the troops"? These were David's thoughts; at least he thought they were, but that isn't what Scripture says.

If Satan can place a thought in your mind—and he can—it isn't much more of a trick for him to make you think it is your idea. If you knew it was Satan, you would reject the thought, wouldn't you? When he disguises his suggestions as your thoughts and ideas, however, you are more likely to accept them. That is his primary deception.

I doubt that Judas initially realized it was Satan's idea to betray Jesus, but Scripture clearly reveals it was. "And during supper, the devil having already put into the heart of Judas Iscariot, the son of Simon, to betray Him" (John 13:2). Judas probably thought he was prompting Jesus to deliver Israel from the Romans. The fact that Judas was a thief was what made him vulnerable to Satan.

Ananias and Sapphira might have thought it was their idea to withhold some of their offering while getting the strokes and attention from others who believed they had given everything. If they knew it was Satan's idea, they probably wouldn't have done it, but Scripture clearly reveals the source of their thoughts. "Peter said, 'Ananias, why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit, and to keep back some of the price of the land?'" (Acts 5:3).

One of our Talbot students brought Tina to me for counseling. Tina was experiencing tremendous emotional difficulty as the result of an incredible background. As a child and teenager, she had witnessed sacrificial and ritual abuse and had repeatedly been violated sexually by her father, her brother and her brother's friend. She watched as her little pet puppy dog was sacrificed as a burnt offering in satanic worship.

Her hope for escaping her background was to enter the field of psychology. She finished her master's degree and tried to enroll in a doctoral program, but her personal life was in shambles.

I shared with Tina that Jesus Christ could set her free if she would open her life to Him. "Would you like to make that decision for Christ?" I asked.

She shook her head. "I'll do it later."

Having heard Tina's story, I was suspicious of what was going on in her mind. "Tina, are you hearing opposing thoughts to what I have been saying? They could be threatening you or me."

"Yes," Tina answered, her face blanched with shock and amazement.

"You're being told a lie, Tina, and Satan is the father of lies." I shared with her further from God's Word, and within 10 minutes she gave her heart to Christ.

If Satan can get you to believe a lie, you can lose some element of control in your life. Suppose I was devious and persuaded you to believe a lie. Would believing that lie have some effect on your life? Suppose I started a rumor that your spouse was unfaithful; and you heard it. Would believing that lie affect how you felt about your husband and how you related to him? Therefore, if you fail to take every thought captive to the obedience of Christ, you may be allowing Satan to influence your life in a negative direction.


Victory Over the Darkness: Realizing the Power of Your Identity in Christ.

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

 

God bless you all!

 

Join our “Victory over the Darkness” or “The Bondage Breaker” 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. 

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Encouragement for the Path of Christian Discipleship