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

Thursday, January 13, 2022

Following the Obscured Path that Leads to Good - Purity 627

Following the Obscured Path that Leads to Good -  Purity 627

Purity 627 01/13/2022  Purity 627 Podcast

Good morning,

Today’s photo of a stream disappearing into a snow covered forest comes to us from yours truly as I captured this scene when I was out working in Poestenkill NY back on November 30th of last year.  If time permits I will also share a couple of videos on the blog of that stream flowing to perhaps provide you with a moment of peace.  (Video didn't process!, Maybe Later)   

I know if you are in the colder parts of our country and are negatively affected by the weather probably the last thing you want to see is a picture of snow! But I share it today for two reasons.  The first reason is, no matter how much may dislike to feel and deal with snowy weather, you have to admit that it is pretty to look at.  


The second reason I share it is because this stream is a pathway of sorts and on Thursdays I generally share photos of pathways to encourage people to step on to, or keep walking on, the path of Christian Discipleship which means that you decide to live your life according to God’s way and continually seek His presence, wisdom, guidance, and strength through prayer, Bible study and simply “walking and talking with God”.  

I encourage this choice on Thursday’s specifically because that is the night that I have taught or led a ministry to help other Christians realize their freedom in Christ for the past 6 years. I had done this in the past at my local church but now I have been blessed with the opportunity to lead a Freedom in Christ Discipleship Course for Men via Zoom for Freedom in Christ Ministries.  To express your interest in joining a Freedom in Christ course use the “get help” link that I am providing on the blog today. (https://www.ficm.org/get-help/).   


I chose todays photo to reflect that the pathway of Christian Discipleship is not always  hospitable. The snow here could represent the cold reception that you will get when you let your family and friends know that you have decided to follow Jesus with the way you live your life going forward. 

The fact that those snow covered trees seem to block and obscure where this stream pathway goes could represent the fact that the world, the flesh, and the devil doesn’t want you to go to where that stream ends and it could also represent the fact that in this Christian walk of faith we don’t always have the assurance of where this is path is leading us.

It also represents the need for us to trust and have faith that God has put us on this path and, no matter what we may experience along the way, we can trust that God will lead us to a good place and be with us every step of the way.  

That paradox of our having uncertainty because of what we can not see and having to be certain that God will see us through is what the path of Christian Discipleship is all about: faith in God over and above our present circumstances and feelings.  

To have that assurance of God’s presence in our lives we have to be walking with Him rather than going our own way. We have to be seeking His wisdom and ways rather than relying on the ways of the world or the ways we have always done things before. 

When we put our faith in Jesus as our Lord and Savior our relationship with God is established. We are forgiven of our sins and given eternal life. We become new creations that are free from sin and death.  

We receive spiritual life and many blessings and promises through Christ but in order to experience the fruit of the Spirit in our lives here and now, we have to trust God, turn from our old ways, and follow Him.  The pathway may not always be easy but it leads to peace, love, joy, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, patience and self-control.  

Just like when you are hiking on a path obscured by a dense forest and you have to trust that the ones who have gone before you will take you to somewhere worthwhile, we  have to trust that God called us to follow Him and that He won’t lead us astray.    


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

This morning’s meditation verse is:

1 John 1:9 (NLT2)
9  But if we confess our sins to him, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all wickedness.

Today’s verse tells us that God continually forgives confessed sin and that He will cleanse us from all wickedness.   

Today’s verse subtly speaks of the spiritual reality of God’s enduring love for us and how it demonstrated by the fact that He is faithful to forgive us and move us out of the darkness of our besetting sins.  

But I like to point out that this verse describes a relationship. The verse doesn’t just tell us that God will forgive us and cleanse us. Before those awesome promises of God there is a condition. The verse tells us that “when we confess our sins to Him” is the condition that leads to that forgiveness and cleansing.   

The Greek word that is translated as “confess” in this verse is homologeō and the first definition for that word in Strong’s Lexicon is “to say the same thing as another, i.e. to agree with, assent.  

So when we are to “confess” our sins. We are not to just list our transgressions. 

“This is what I did Lord. Forgive me.”

No, we are to agree with God. We are to say the same thing as He would about our sins which is that our behaviors are missing the mark of how a child of God would behave and that we will turn from them and forsake them to follow the Lord’s way.  

Now don’t get me wrong here, your forgiveness of your sins and your right standing with God was established and is irrevocable when you put your faith in Jesus Christ.  

This verse is not saying that if we don’t confess our sins we won’t be accepted into God’s kingdom.  This verse is speaking about your relationship with God and the fact that we are “saints who will sin”.  

God knows that our Christian life will not be sinless perfection but He doesn’t want us to live in condemnation when we fail. Instead He wants us to come to Him to reestablish the harmony of our relationship with Him that our sin gets in the way of.  He wants us to re-experience the peace of our forgiven status by confessing to Him when we fail.  

This could lead to a cycle of sin-confess sin confess if we don’t understand that we are to agree with God and repent and to:

John 8:11 (NLT2)
11  … Go and sin no more.”   

The agreeing with God, our repentance, is what will lead to us to being cleanse from all wickedness.  God doesn’t want you on the merry go round of sin and empty confession. He wants you to know not only the peace of your continual forgiveness but He wants you to experience the joy of being cleansed of your wickedness and the close relationship you can have when you confess and agree with God.  

So keep walking and talking with God. Your sins don’t need to trip you up but to get over them you need to draw close to God and agree with Him in the way you should go.  

 

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 to share from Dr. Neil Anderson’s . “Restored: Experience Life with Jesus”. Today, we continue sharing from Chapter 4.   

As always, I share this information for educational purposes and encourage all to purchase Dr. Neil Anderson’s books for your own private study and to support his work.

JUSTICE, MERCY, AND GRACE

Consider these simple definitions of justice, mercy and grace as they apply to relationships: Justice is giving people what they deserve. If God were perfectly just in dealing with us, we would all go to hell. God is a just God, and “The wages of sin is death.”78

Mercy is not giving people what they deserve. “But when the kindness of God our Savior and His love for mankind appeared, He saved us, not on the basis of deeds which we have done in righteousness, but according to His mercy.”79 Justice had to be served, so Jesus took upon Himself the wrath of God.

Grace is giving us what we don’t deserve. “For by grace you have been saved through faith.”80 Forgiveness and eternal life are free gifts from God.

So the Lord instructs us to, “Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.”81 We are not to give people what they deserve (be merciful); we are to give them what they don’t deserve (be gracious). We are called to love people, not because they are lovable or deserve to be loved, but because we have become “partakers of the divine nature.”82 God loves us because it is His nature to love us. “God is love.”83 “By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.”84 This ability to love one another is possible only by the grace of God, as is the ability to forgive as we have been forgiven.

The most common Greek word in the New Testament translated to forgive basically means to send away or to let go. In forgiving, we send away the devil so he can’t torment us, and we let go of the past so it can no longer have a hold on us. The pain and anger is released as we forgive from our hearts.

WHAT TO AVOID

Two major errors are to be avoided when addressing the issue of forgiveness. The first is more common among counselors. Influenced by secular resources, some counselors teach that forgiveness is a process and tell many that they are not ready to forgive. They tell people they have to go through all the painful memories first and then they will be able to forgive. The problem is they will never get there. Rehearsing the painful memories week after week only deepens the wounds and reinforces the abuse. The implication is that one has to heal in order to forgive, but in actuality, it is the other way around. We forgive in order to heal.

The other error is more common in the Church. The extreme version would sound like this: “You shouldn’t feel that way; you just need to forgive.” They just bypassed forgiveness. We have to forgive from the heart. Forgiveness is a hard choice, which includes: (1) allowing God to surface the names of every offending person and painful memory; (2) agreeing to live with the consequences of the other person’s sin without seeking revenge; and (3) letting God deal with the offending person in His way and in His time.

All forgiveness is efficacious or substitutionary. Christ paid the price for our sins, and we pay the price for those who sinned against us. In a practical sense, forgiveness is agreeing to live with the consequences of another person’s sins. “But that isn’t fair,” some protest. Of course it isn’t, but we will have to do so anyway. Everybody is living with the consequences of somebody else’s sin. We are all living with the consequences of Adam’s sin. We have the choice to live in the bondage of bitterness or in the freedom of forgiveness.

 ---------------------------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

 

Wednesday, January 12, 2022

Walk with Me - Encouraging not Chasing - Purity 626


Walk with Me  - Encouraging not Chasing -  Purity 626

Purity 626 01/12/2022  Purity 626 Podcast

Good morning,

Today’s photo of a blazing sun peaking through the clouds somewhere along the Florida coastline comes to us from a friend who shared a treasure trove of photos of their recent 12 day holiday get away where they visited Dunedin, Clearwater, St. Pete Beach, Treasure Island, St. Petersburg, and Tampa all for the first time.  I love the stillness that they captured in this photo and because the sun is to the left of center I thought it was a good representation of our being in the beginning stages of getting over the hump of the midweek.  

Yes, It’s Wednesday and after we get past today it’ll all be down hill from there, or at least we can hope.  And for those of us who know their freedom in Christ, we know that we always have a reason for our hope. In Christ we have the assurance of an eternal life in His kingdom and death has therefore lost its sting.  When we know we have a right standing with God and live with this perspective, the problems of this world don’t seem so big because we know that God is with us and will see us through.  

I moderate a Freedom in Christ Discipleship Course Men’s Group each Thursday online and have taught in-person classes in the past.  So people know what I am about and sometimes I am blessed because people will reach out to me to receive counsel.  Tonight I am meeting with a man that has expressed having some measures of success in his Christian walk but seems to still struggle with depression and fear.  

As a teacher, Christian Counselor, and vocal advocate for a lifestyle of Christian Discipleship, I have to be careful when I meet with someone new because I have discovered that all though Christians are all brothers and sisters in Christ we don’t all have the same levels of maturity in our faith because each of our educations, understanding, and experience in Christianity differ. 

Unfortunately, in the past I have felt that I may have tried to teach too much, counsel too much, or encourage too much, because after I have described what worked for me in my faith walk to overcome addictions, depression, and anxiety, the people I have talked to may have determined that “it was just too much” and their lack of follow up proved they, for whatever reason, weren’t on board because they didn’t accept one of the many options I gave to enter into a one-on-one discipleship/accountability relationship, join a class, or to do a periodic email correspondence.  I would offer to cater the encouragement I gave to them at whatever level they wanted but they didn’t accept the invitation.  

Now why didn’t I follow up and pester them until they said yes? Is letting them walk away with out help the Christian thing to do?  

Well, no where in the New Testament do we see Jesus chasing after people saying: “Come on guys, follow me!”   Quite the opposite.  Christ had many hangers on after his miracles and at one point in his ministry his teaching about drinking His blood and eating His flesh sent people heading for the exits.  Did Christ run after them? No, in fact Jesus challenged the Apostles to leave too!

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."

God doesn’t force us to follow Him. We must choose for ourselves. So when someone that we encourage walks away, we can check in to see if they are still interested in coming along beside us but after a while we should accept their “no to be no”  and we can pray for the Lord to convict them and help them.      

As for tonight’s session with this new acquaintance, I plan to take extra time to listen to get to know what their walk is like and to hear some of their history so they can know that I genuinely care about them being set free from their fear and depression.  But I will also encourage them that their freedom is dependent upon their relationship with God more than their relationship with me.  

The One who has the words of eternal life and the One that caused the lame to walk, the blind to see, and the deaf to hear is the One that can heal them. 

But regardless of the responses I get I will be faithful to encourage everyone who seeks counsel to trust in the Lord to deliver them from their struggles, but I will inform them that their healing and transformation will require them to believe in the Word of God and to apply it to their lives and to faithfully answer the call of the One whose call is simply:

Matthew 4:19 (NKJV)
19  … "Follow Me..."  


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

This morning’s meditation verse is:

1 John 3:20 (NLT2)
20  Even if we feel guilty, God is greater than our feelings, and he knows everything.

Today’s verse tells us that God is all knowing and that He is greater than our feelings.  

I love the way the NLT simplifies this verse from the original KJV

1 John 3:20 (KJV)
20  For if our heart condemn us, God is greater than our heart, and knoweth all things.

When our heart condemns us that is guilt! God being greater than our heart means that He is greater than our feelings!  

This is why I encourage people to consult other versions of the Bible or to consult Bible commentaries to get understanding when they are struggling to know what God’s word is trying to say.  

In the preceding verses (1 John 3:18-19), John is encouraging  us to not just show our love with words but to show it with actions and assures us that our actions will show us that we really are in the Christian faith and that we can be assured of our right standing with God.  

Today’s verse is to answer to the Christian that says : “I know I said I believe and do some Christian things like go to church but I don’t feel like I am a Christian…”   

It tells us that when it comes to our salvation our feelings are not to be trusted, the word of God is to be trusted and believed.  That’s what it means to be saved by faith!  We need to believe it, to trust it, to have faith in it, and live it!   

So if you have doubts about your faith, stand on your confession to make Christ your Lord and Savior and tell yourself: 

“My feelings say that I am no different: But the word of God says in Romans 10:9, that  if I have confess with my mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in my heart that God raised him from the dead, I will be saved. I did confess Jesus is my Lord and Savior, I do believe in my heart that God raised Him from the dead!  So, I am saved”

In Christ you are accepted, secure, and significant.  But you have to know that and remind yourself of that to feel that.  So I am sharing a link to a PDF of Who I am in Christ from Freedom in Christ Ministries (https://www.ficm.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/04/who-i-am-in-christ05.pdf) that you can meditate on that tells you who you are and that can be used as part of your daily spiritual practice to renew your mind and change your feelings to align with what God says about you.  

We can all feel guilty at times but if we are in Christ, we can simply pray to the Father to forgive us our latest transgressions to take away our guilt and restore our harmonious relationship with God once again.  

So keep walking and talking with God.  Talking to God is reading His word and communing to Him in prayer to seek His wisdom, guidance, and strength continually.  Walking with God is simply realizing that God is with you always and applying His wisdom to your life in the ways that you think and in the ways that you behave.

If you do those two things, you will walk away from guilt, anxiety, fear, and depression as the fruit of the Spirit of peace, love and joy take their place.  God is greater than our feelings and believing what He says about us will give us peace.  

 

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 to share from Dr. Neil Anderson’s . “Restored: Experience Life with Jesus”. Today, we continue sharing from Chapter 4.   

As always, I share this information for educational purposes and encourage all to purchase Dr. Neil Anderson’s books for your own private study and to support his work.

GIVING UP OUR RIGHT TO BLAME

Some people deal with their emotional pain by pointing fingers. “That person violated me” or “I’m suffering because of that person.” While that may be true, it doesn’t resolve the problem. Blaming someone else can be a cover for your own guilt, or it reveals a heart that is more prone to seek revenge than to forgive.

To place the blame on somebody else can be nothing more than an excuse to stay in the bondage of bitterness. The reason that many still feel the emotional pain from the past is because they haven’t forgiven. I can empathize with these people because they have been hurt. But I also care enough to help them realize that bad things happen to good people all the time, and it may happen to them again. I can’t guarantee that a woman will not be sexually assaulted, but I can say that God has a means by which that event doesn’t have to control her for the rest of her life. Nobody can fix your past, but by the grace of God you can be free from it.

Forgiveness is an act of the will whereby we give up our claim to seek revenge for an offense against us. God could have justifiably exercised His wrath against us and all mankind. Instead, “He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.”71 Was it difficult for Jesus to accept His Father’s will? He said to Peter, James, and John, “My soul is deeply grieved, to the point of death,”72 and He cried out, “My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; yet not as I will, but as Thou wilt.” The will of our heavenly Father was that Jesus go to the cross, but the grace of God was incredibly evident even in His hour of agony. As Jesus looked down upon those who would crucify Him, He said, “Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing.”73

The Cross reveals the cost of forgiveness and the pain of bearing the penalty of someone else’s sin. At the Cross, Jesus died once for all the sins of the world.74 He paid the penalty for my sins, your sins, and all the sins committed by others against all the people of this world. The victim cries out, “Where is the justice?” It’s in the Cross. Forgiving others would be a moral outrage without the Cross.

In the same manner that God has forgiven us, God wants us to forgive others. “Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. And be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you.”75 When you face the reality of forgiving others, know that the grace of God will always enable you to do the will of God.

Many Christians try to forgive over and over again, but still feel hurt and confused. They haven’t understood how to forgive from the heart, or they haven’t finished all the Steps, and the process isn’t complete without doing that. Forgiving from our hearts is part of submitting to God, but it will take the rest of the Steps before they are fully ready to resist the devil. People win a major battle going through this Step, but complete freedom doesn’t usually come until the last Step.

GIVE SATAN NO ADVANTAGE

One of the most definitive teachings on forgiveness is in Matthew 18:21-35. Several issues stand out in this passage. First, we are to continue forgiving no matter how many times we have been sinned against. Second, the degree that we have been forgiven by God is far greater than the degree we will ever have to forgive others. Third, repayment is impossible. Fourth, we are to forgive from our hearts or suffer the consequences of being tormented by the accuser of the brethren. If we will not forgive as we have been forgiven, our heavenly Father will hand us over to the torturers (see verses 34 & 35). That’s not because He doesn’t love us; that’s because He doesn’t want us to live in the bondage of bitterness. He wants us to live free and productive lives in Christ. God disciplines those He loves.

Paul warns us about Satan’s entrapment when there is unforgiveness: “Whom you forgive anything, I forgive also; for indeed what I have forgiven, if I have forgiven anything, I did it for your sakes in the presence of Christ, in order that no advantage be taken of us by Satan; for we are not ignorant of his schemes [thoughts].”76 We are not to sin through anger, because that gives the devil an opportunity as well.77

 ---------------------------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


Monday, October 11, 2021

When It’s All Been Said and Done – Are they a Christian in the Dark? - Checking the Clues 10 - Purity 546


 
When It’s All Been Said and Done – Are they a Christian in the Dark?  - Checking the Clues 10 - Purity 546     

Purity 546 10/11/2021     Purity 546 Podcast

Good morning

Today’s photo of the view of from the top of Whiteface Mountains that apparently captures “aspects of positive and negative space” comes to us from a friend who quickly  became a fiancé when it became clear that we both viewed each other with love and could both “see” that we would like to spend the rest of our lives together as man and wife.  

But just as the view from the top of Whiteface Mountain was somewhat hazy when I joined my fiancé and several members of her family to take a gondola ride to the summit on Saturday, the view of the future, how we will work out the details of our wedding, and how we will live as husband and wife are still “up in the air” and unclear.  The prospects of the changes on the horizon are both exciting and somewhat alarming as the consequences of two becoming one in the bonds of marriage will have far reaching and unforeseen circumstances.  

Although I will keep it real in admitting that some friends and family have voiced their surprise, concern, and objections, over our “whirl wind” decision to marry,  I must admit that I have had a lot of peace in the process of making my friend a fiancé and meeting the people that will be a part of our new family as the vast majority of my prospective in-laws have been warm, friendly, and receptive.     

I was also surprised by how at peace you could be when you make other decisions that will change how you have lived for years in significant ways.   I have been on the worship team as an audio-visual technician at Rock Solid Church for nearly ten years and decided yesterday to inform the team of my decision to marry in the near future and of my intention to find a replacement for my position and to no longer serve on the team after the first of January to be available to worship the Lord at my wife’s side every Sunday no matter where we find ourselves in our new life.          

As I was driving to my fiancé’s place after attending her brother’s Christian “growth group”, Robin Mark’s “When it’s All Been Said and Done” popped up in the older playlist I had selected and I was shaken by how the lyrics, flutes, and strings seemed to convey the revelation of an all knowing and sovereign God that knew that this present course was to be a part of my life’s journey long before I could ever dream of these changes coming to pass.  The lyrics say:

“When it's all been said and done

All my treasures will mean nothing

Only what I have done

For love's rewards

Will stand the test of time”

I was quite moved in my spirit, hearing these lyrics, and realizing that finding a woman who is the answer to my prayers for a Christian life partner was in God’s plans and that one of the consequences for my decision to live by faith in the power of the holy Spirit was to come into one of “love’s rewards” that will stand the test of time.  

The sweeping changes that lie ahead in my life reveal that although we try to “see around the corners” of the future when we “walk in the Spirit” by predicting and speculating about where “this” is all leading, we actually are totally dependent on God’s plan for our lives and the way that He shapes our journey as I am realizing that all my presumptions and expectations for the my latter days of my life were based on incomplete information. Only God knows our futures perfectly.

With this latest revelation this morning, I have been greeted in my imagination by children’s televisions Blue and Dr. Suess’s Sam I am who have informed me that this 10th installment of our current series of “Checking the Clues” of a potential life partner’s authentic Christian faith will be the last. 

Blue informs me that after today we will have given enough “clues” for our friends to use to find a Christian spouse, and that today’s inquiry from Sam I am, will equally apply to us as advice and encouragement on the path of Christian Discipleship, as well as a possible category for evaluating someone else’s faith life.   

For his final question, Sam I am advises us to think deeply and to consider his inquiry from multiple points of view and then asks:

“Are they a Christian in the dark?”  

As I contemplate the idea of darkness and my walk of faith, there are a few things we should consider in terms of evaluating “Christian authenticity” in someone’s life.   The word says that we will know Christ’s disciples by their fruit so if we are evaluating a potential life partner’s faith life we should observe their attitudes and actions even in “darkness” to see if their faith is evident.  

The first consideration of darkness comes straight from

1 John 1:6 (NKJV)  which says:
6  If we say that we have fellowship with Him, and walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth.
  

So, if our potential life partner who claims to be a Christian is “walking in darkness”, they are lying and not practicing the truth.  

So what is darkness here? The NLT translates this verse to convey “spiritual darkness” which would be revealed by someone who has doubts about or fails to believe the doctrines of grace or who holds beliefs that are not Christian.  The degree of authentic Christian faith is directly proportional to the level of someone’s belief and trust in what the Bible teaches. The more doubt or holding of views outside of scripture the more “spiritual darkness” there is in someone’s life.  

I wanted to point out the spiritual aspects and the importance of belief in considering someone’s faith first because we are saved by, and called to live by, “faith”.   If people reveal that they don’t really believe the Bible or hold beliefs that contradict it, their “Christian” faith isn’t as authentic as they may think.  

The second aspect of darkness that can be drawn from the context of John’s epistle is the “darkness” of sin.  If someone claims to be a Christian but lives a lifestyle that includes behaviors that are “sinful”, their Christian faith is either not authentic or is immature. 

If we have our eyes open, we can see the darkness of unbelief or sin in their lives.  While it is everyone’s own decision who they marry, if the desire is live as Christians, we would want to avoid potential partners who live in darkness.  

The second aspect of “darkness” that I can see as a Christian counselor is the “darkness” of depression.   If your potential life partner who claims to be a Christian, has a negative view of life, and seems to dwell in a den of depression we must be discerning in determining if we want to walk out the rest of our days with someone who we may have to constantly encourage and whose Christian faith may not be as authentic as we may think. 

The word commands us to rejoice and speaks about the joy of the Lord as the Christian’s strength.  Someone with a negative view on life or that suffers from depression may be immature or disingenuous in their faith or has failed to apply their faith to their lives or may suffer from demonic oppression.

Am I saying that Christians can’t be depressed? Absolutely not! But I am saying you may want to really consider all the possibilities in choosing a life partner who suffers from depression, including the possibility that their faith may not be authentic.  

As someone who has experienced with suffering from depression individually and has had relationships with individuals who have suffered from depression, I try not to address hypothetical scenarios when evaluating depression in Christians. I don’t know any hypothetical people and neither do you. While I admit the real need for medications to treat depression in some cases, I profess the universal need of all real-life “Christians” to repent, renew their minds with the word of God, and to take every thought captive to the obedience of Christ.  

If your potential life partner suffers from depression and is unwilling or unable to use their “Christian faith” as part of their condition’s treatment you may be receiving a “clue” of the true condition of their faith and the difficulties that would lie in being in a committed relationship with them.  

So consider and choose according to where the Lord leads you in this area. As someone who was in relationship with depressed individuals, I can assure you that living with depression is difficult for both parties and is even worse when you are unequally yoked.  

The final take on “darkness” that we will consider is the “darkness” of times of uncertainty or suffering.    The authenticity of, and great value of, our Christian faith is often best proven in times of suffering and times of uncertainty.  How people deal with suffering and uncertain outcomes can help us get an indication of what they truly believe.  

Ideally, Christians would meet suffering and uncertainty with faith. So if your potential life partner is faced with suffering or uncertainty and their response fails to demonstrate aspects of Christians spiritual practices, we may see that their faith is immature or non-existent.  

Again, we are not measuring everyone by the levels of their faith to guess their final destination in eternity, our purposes in this series and in this blog in general is to encourage discernment in our relationships as well as our faith walk. 

We have come to know the incredible power of God that can help us to overcome the problems that we face on earth through walking in the Spirit on the path of Christian Discipleship. So we encourage Christians to believe that the word of God is true, apply it to their lives, and to live continually seeking the Lord and living by faith.   

The best way to find an authentic Christian to be a life partner is to be authentic Christian yourself. So keep walking and talking with God because if you truly live by faith you will rejoice and have joy in your life whether you walk out the rest of this life with a Christian spouse or with just the Holy Spirit by your side.  Either way, God will never leave us or forsake us.       

    

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

This morning’s meditation verse is:

Romans 12:6 (NLT2)
6  In his grace, God has given us different gifts for doing certain things well. So if God has given you the ability to prophesy, speak out with as much faith as God has given you.

Today’s verse encourages us to use the gifts that we have been given and to speak the truth in accordance with our faith.   

Paul’s epistle to the Romans informs us that we all have been given different gifts that are given to us by God and that they are to be used.   So while we might not consider ourselves as especially gifted or talented in the spiritual realm or in general, today’s verse tells us that we have some God given gifts that we should utilize for God’s glory.   

Every Christian can do something to give God glory with the gifts they have been given.  Our particular gifts are given to us to fulfill our purpose in Christ.

If you are not sure what your gifts are you can ask other people in your life what they think your gifts and strengths are or you could seek out a “spiritual gifts test” to tell you what your gifts are.   But the key to remember is that once you learn what your gifts are, is to be diligent to use them!   

The gift of prophecy, which in the New Testament context includes preaching, encouraging, and exhorting, is mentioned here and Paul encourages us to prophesy in proportion to our faith.  

Now while we may be hesitant to drop a “Thus sayeth the Lord” future prediction”, we can all preach, encourage, or exhort to some extent, according to the measure of our faith.  

Our preaching can simply include our personal testimony or insights we have gained from the word. So yes, everybody could preach.  

Likewise, if we have come into the Christian faith by making Jesus our Lord and Savior, we should be able to encourage or exhort others to do likewise or to trust the Lord for other areas of life.  

So determine what God has gifted you with and use them for His glory.  God saved us for a reason, and He gave us certain talents and abilities to help us to fulfill our purpose in Him. Listen for the call of God on your life to use your gifts because if you step out in faith and bless others and give glory to God, you just may find yourself prophesying to others to do the same.

 

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 Dating: Secrets to Great Relating When Dating  

 

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:

. What Is the Difference Between Infatuation and True Love?

Laura is in love! Laura is in love with love. And although she frequently dates, Laura rarely relates. The few boyfriends she's had in the past throw in the towel within a short period of time because dating Laura is almost exclusively about... Laura.

When meeting a new man, Laura enjoys laughing and flirting...wining and dining...dancing and romancing. But soon the fantasy fades and reality sets in with an oblivious lack of commitment to moral character. Suddenly Laura—or more often the man—loses interest. But Laura doesn't let her heart languish for long....Almost immediately she is looking again for something she labels as "love." What irony in this truth...

"The heart of fools is in the house of pleasure." (Ecclesiastes 7:4)

Everyone has felt infatuation to one degree or another. Everyone has experienced "puppy love" at one time or another. Did you ever take the long way around in order to walk by a certain someone or that someone's desk...or locker...or house? Did you take special care to look especially attractive on days when you thought your paths might cross? Did your heart skip a beat when you looked up and unexpectedly caught a glance from him...or her? Is that feeling actually love...or is it love's pseudopersona...infatuation'? Sometimes it's difficult to discern—especially if the one you have these feelings for doesn't seem to feel the same way.

  • Infatuation is a form of emotional obsession, an expression of excessive admiration or foolish love void of sound judgment.
    • —Infatuation is a powerful feeling, but it is based more on the idea of someone than it is on who the person actually is.
    • —Infatuation does not last because it's not based on reality.
  • Love seeks the highest good of another person, does what is in the best interest of another person. People throughout the ages have asked, "What is true love?" Our most authoritative source for understanding the true nature of love comes from God as revealed in His Word.
    • —Love is an action.
      "Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one's life for one's friends" (John 15:13).
    • —Love is a decision.
      "We love because he first loved us" (1 John 4:19).
    • —Love is work.

"Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres" (1 Corinthians 13:4-7).

Love and relationships take effort. There is no fairy-tale formula for true love. God's Word, along with time and maturity, will give you the ability to discern fantasy from reality. Until then, waiting for sound reasoning will guard your heart from being hurt. ...

"Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it." (Proverbs 4:23)

Infatuation vs. Love

In differentiating between love and infatuation, consider these differences...

Infatuation

Love

• Sudden

• Gradual

• Highly emotional

• Faithfully consistent

• Idealistic

• Realistic

• Based on feelings

• Based on commitment

• Weakened by separation

• Strengthened by separation

• Seeking to find happiness

• Seeking to give happiness

• Focusing on external looks

• Focusing on internal character

• Seeking to get

• Seeking to give

• Possessive

• Freeing

• In love with "emotion"

• In love with "devotion"

God, the Source of love, tells us through His written Word...

"This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters.... let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth." (1 John 3:16-18)

Live-In Boyfriend

Question: "My live-in boyfriend says he loves me, but just isn't ready to marry. We're already living as though we are married. What can I do to change his mind?"

Answer: If your boyfriend can sexually "have his cake and eat it too," what is his motivation for getting married? When you engage in the sexual acts of love outside of marriage, you are minimizing the essence of love. According to God's Word, neither of you is truly showing love to the other when you engage in premarital sex. Begin now by either moving out or having him move out.

If your boyfriend really loves you, he will want you (not just sex) and will be willing to wait until the wedding vows are said.

"It [Love] does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking." (1 Corinthians 13:5)


Biblical Counseling Keys: Dating: Secrets to Great Relating When Dating.

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

 

 

 

Join our “Victory over the Darkness” or “The Bondage Breaker” series of Discipleship Classes via the mt4christ247 podcast!

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Encouragement for the Path of Christian Discipleship