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

Tuesday, December 6, 2022

Yeah, I’m an idiot but God loves me anyway. - Purity 907


Yeah, I’m an idiot but God loves me anyway. -  Purity 907    

Purity 907 12/06/2022 Purity 907 Podcast

Purity 907 on YouTube: 



Good morning,

Today’s photo of a pink, blue, and yellow sunset over the Hudson River from the vantage point of Route 9’s overpass on the Rensselaer side of the Dunn Memorial Bridge comes to us from yours truly as I did my best to capture the glory of the moment from my rearview mirror mounted phone as I drove home yesterday evening.  

Well, It’s Tuesday again, and I for one am happy to leave Monday behind because even though I was able to complete all my work yesterday, I had a serious case of the “Mondays” as I made a couple of mistakes that will forever mark the 5th day of December 2022 as a day that will live in infamy.  Okay, I think I should say goodbye to you now because yesterday’s debacle may cause you to decide to look elsewhere for any advice or encouragement for the path of Christian Discipleship but if nothing else my confession this morning will serve as evidence as my intention to live a life of honesty and transparency.  

Yesterday, while at work I locked myself our of my van and had to call my foreman to send some to let me back into it.  

“Hey that’s no big deal, people make mistakes MT. It could happen to anybody.”  

I wasn’t finished.  While at work yesterday, I locked myself out of my van, twice!

What? 

Yup! Twice.   Sure everybody makes mistakes, but when you do it twice in the same day people have to wonder about your mental and emotional well-being! 

So let me assure you I wasn’t depressed or anxious about any on going issues in my life. I wasn’t super busy either. 

In reassessing each instance of stupidity, I now see the common thread that led to my embarrassment. In each case, I put the keys down, once in the ignition & once in the cup holder, in preparations of leaving where I was but in each case I made a quick decision to “do one more thing, really quick” more or less that caused me to leave the vehicle and lock myself out.  I wasn’t really in a hurry, okay. In fact it was because I wanted to be thorough in performing my work that I found myself locked out of my van. 

In the first instance, even though I had been given the “green light” to leave my first job, an install for a business, by one of the staff on hand, I decided to wait until the acting manager showed up to ask where exactly their “new phone” line was supposed to go. 

So when I saw a man who looked like he might be person I was looking for go inside, I called the contact number I had and ended up speaking to him.  Sometimes with business customers, the staff and even management aren’t aware of what is going on with the business’ requests for service and that was the case yesterday.  So when this manager said, “Why don’t you come inside, so we can figure this out?” I complied quickly but left my keys in the ignition! Doh!”  

After finishing inside, I discovered my mistake, called for help, and ended up slinking back inside the business to get out of the cold. I got in undetected and hid/waited in an unoccupied space until my rescuer called to let me know he was outside.  I figured why bother the staff and embarrass myself with sharing my problem and as far as the business customer is concerned, this little drama never happened, so keep that between us, lol!

Anyway later in the day, I had an “easy” trouble – to fix a customers call forwarding.  They needed the calls on a particular line to be forwarded to a new number but it “wasn’t working”.  I had “some trouble” programing the new number at the  central office so I went into my van to call the “Testing center” who can sometimes “fix” over the phone.  And I was only on the phone with them for a minute or so and they told me that they fixed it. They also pointed out that the “trouble” in the CO was due to sequence in which I performed the steps, just something to “remember next time”.

I was ready to close the job and get new work when I started to doubt.  Even though the person on the phone told me the trouble was fixed, I wanted to “make sure” it was fixed.  So one minute, I am about to close the job, and the next I am going into the central office to set up the call forwarding, in the proper sequence, to confirm, for myself, that the problem was indeed fixed.  I figure it would only take a minute. SO I grabbed my “butt set” and frame clip and went to “get er done.”

But I only took a few steps to the door when I realized that my pockets felt a little light.

Oh NO!

Yup, I left the keys in the cup holder of the van and had locked myself out, AGAIN! 

So I called for help, and eventually got back into the van and back to the garage at the end of the day, SO GLAD, that the day was over.  

As you might suspect, there was a full frontal assault of condemnation in each instance, and I credit the Lord for showing me who I am in Christ as the only way I am still not beating myself up this morning.    

When you make a mistake like this, repeatedly, its hard to have any confidence that you are a capable human being.  Your failures show your inadequacy and the enemy is there to accuse and to drive us into fear or depression because of them.  

But luckily, this isn’t my first rodeo with dealing with condemnation and the Lord has shown me the way to overcome. Not surprisingly, the way to peace is to focus on Him rather than us and if we are being condemned by ourselves or the enemy, it doesn’t matter, we can still point to what is true about Him to restore us.  

Yeah, I’m an idiot but God loves me anyway. Thank You God, Thank You Jesus, Thank You Holy Spirit.  

While the world can and will rightfully judge my inadequacies and choose to reject me, the Lord accepts me for who I am, warts and all, failures and all.  

While others may want to distance themselves from me when I mess up, The Lord draws closer to me.  

And while bad things have happened to me, and mostly because of me, and will continue to happen to me, God is working all things together for my good. He has provided for me and given me good things in this life that I don’t deserve and, by God, for reasons I don’t quite understand and don’t want to question, He will continue to lead me into good things in the future, including His eternal kingdom.  

During the processing of yesterday’s trauma, I went to my go to Bible verse to silence the voices of condemnation, if you don’t know it you haven’t been following me for long,

Romans 8:1 (NKJV) says
1  There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit.

And those words reminded me that there was no condemnation for me, because I am in Christ Jesus. I am forgiven. I am accepted and loved by God.  I am not judged by my performance or lack thereof. Even though I didn’t feel worthy, when I spoke it, I knew it was true.   

In fact, as I received peace and joy over the reminder of who I am in Christ, I laughed and thought: 

“Even though there very well  SHOULD BE condemnation… There is no condemnation in Christ Jesus!

So if you have made same mistake twice in the same day, I’m right there with you, brother!   And it is my prayer that you know who you are in Christ and that you know that regardless of what you do, if you are in Christ you are: 

LOVED

Forgiven

ACCEPTED

SECURE

SIGNIFICANT

And FREE!

I am Including the link (https://www.ficm.org/ministry-materials/free-resources/)  to the free resources page of Freedom in Christ Ministries, where you can download a copy of  “Who I AM in Christ” List from FICM Today in case you don’t know, or you have forgotten who you are in Christ.  

I also wanted to announce that registration for many new courses, including the Freedom In Christ Course, that l Iead on Tuesday nights in 2023, are now open at FICM. The link for that is on the blog as well: https://www.ficm.org/courses/level-1-get-started/ . Just find the course that is right for you and click on the “More Info & To Sign Up” tab to reserve your spot. Space is limited and registration closes on December 17th, so make plans to grow more and to learn more about your faith and yourself in 2023 by signing up today!

While we may always make mistakes this side of heaven, when we are walking and talking with God, we can move past them.  If we fall down, God is always there to pick us up and to encourage us in the way we should go but we won’t receive His joy and peace unless we know who we are in Christ and remember to keep on walking and talking with Him.   

 

  

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

This morning’s meditation verses are:

1 John 3:17-19 (NLT2)
17  If someone has enough money to live well and sees a brother or sister in need but shows no compassion—how can God’s love be in that person?
18  Dear children, let’s not merely say that we love each other; let us show the truth by our actions.
19  Our actions will show that we belong to the truth, so we will be confident when we stand before God.

 Today’s verses encourage us to show our love for others by acting.

While money can be a sore subject in faith circles, let me apply a little healthy shame: Most of us have enough money to live well, and there are many in need, so let’s face it we should be compassionate and give, something!

If you are flat broke, I get it. But most of us aren’t and can give something. In fact if you are not giving regularly to your church, to ministries, or to charities, I have to encourage you to do it because verses like today’s verses indicate that a Christian should not be just one who says they care but is someone who actually shows it in action and giving is the easiest way to act.  

Don’t get it twisted, I would rather you serve your church or the community at large in some manner to put your feet on the street in service to the Lord but if you can’t do that I would ask you to show your love for others by giving to the less fortunate in some way.  

I look at my own life and my unwise spending and am literally ashamed at times of how badly I mismanage my life but the money I give to my church, spend on ministry expenses, or donate to charities are the expenses that I can look at and feel good about. It might not be much but at least I give something to someone rather than to myself.  

Today verses tell us to enter into the life of discipleship with action, to DO SOMETHING, to share and to show God’s love in us with other people in our lives.  So let your heart lead you to step out and give or to do something for someone, somewhere, for the glory of the Lord.  

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

Today we continue sharing from Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s “Discipleship”, also known as “The Cost of Discipleship”

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

The Church of Jesus Christ and Discipleship

Chapter Nine

Baptism, concludes

The death of baptism means justification away from sin. In order to be freed from their sin, sinners must die. Whoever has died is justified from sin (Rom. 6:7; Col. 2:20). Sin no longer has any claim on those who are dead; with death the claim has been met and has ceased to exist. Justification from (άπὸ) sin can thus take place only through death. Forgiveness of sin does not mean that the sin is overlooked or forgotten; rather, it means that the sinner is really put to death and thus separated from (άπὸ) sin. However, the only reason the sinner’s death means justification and not condemnation is that this death is suffered in communion [Gemeinschaft] with the death of Christ. Being baptized into the death of Christ is what brings forgiveness of sins and justification and a complete separation from sin. In calling his disciples into the community of the cross, Jesus gave them the gift of justification, of death and forgiveness of sins. The disciple who followed Jesus in the community of the cross received no other gift than the believer who was baptized according to Paul’s teaching.

Although baptism requires a passive role on our human part, it must never be understood as a mechanical process. A look at the relation between baptism and Spirit makes this abundantly clear (Matt. 3:11; Acts 10:47; John 3:5; 1 Cor. 6:11; 12:13). The gift received in baptism is the Holy Spirit, and the Holy Spirit is Christ himself dwelling in the hearts of the believers (2 Cor. 3:17; Rom. 8:9–11, 14ff.; Eph. 3:16f.). Those baptized are the house in which the Holy Spirit dwells (οίκεῖ). It is through the Holy Spirit that Jesus Christ remains present with us, and that we are in community with him. The Holy Spirit gives us a true understanding of Christ’s nature (1 Cor. 2:10) and of his will; the Holy Spirit teaches us and reminds us of all that Christ has said to us (John 14:26); the Holy Spirit guides us into all truth (John 16:13), so that we may not be lacking in the knowledge of Christ, and may understand the gifts bestowed on us by God (1 Cor. 2:12; Eph. 1:9). The Holy Spirit does not create uncertainty in us, but certainty and clarity. We are thus enabled to walk in the Spirit (Gal. 5:16, 18, 25; Rom. 8:1, 4), taking confident steps. After his ascension, Jesus did not withdraw from those who belong to him that measure of certainty which the disciples of Jesus enjoyed during their earthly community with him. By sending the Holy Spirit into the hearts of those who are baptized, the community with Jesus has in fact become so intimate that the certainty of knowing him is not only preserved, but increased and strengthened (Rom. 8:16; John 16:12f.).

In calling the disciples, Jesus demanded a visible act of obedience. To follow Jesus was a public act. In just the same way baptism is a public act, for in baptism we are incorporated into the visible church-community [Gemeinde] of Jesus Christ (Gal. 3:27f.; 1 Cor. 12:13). The break with the world which has taken place in Christ can no longer remain hidden; it must become externally visible through active participation in the life and worship of the church-community. Christians who are actively involved in the church-community take a step out of the world, their work, and family; they visibly stand in the community with Jesus Christ. They take this step on their own as individuals. But they regain what they have given up—brothers, sisters, houses, fields.[20] Those who are baptized live in the visible church-community of Jesus Christ. What that means and entails must be examined in the following two chapters on the “body of Christ” and the “visible church-community.”

Baptism and the receiving of its gift take place only once. No one can be baptized twice with the baptism of Christ.[13] The fact that this gracious act of God is unique and cannot be repeated is what the Letter to the Hebrews is trying to express in that mysterious passage about the impossibility of a second repentance after baptism and conversion (Heb. 6:4ff.). All those who are baptized are participating in Christ’s death. Through his death, they have received their death sentence and have died. And just as Christ died once and for all (Rom. 6:10), and just as there can be no repetition of his sacrifice, so do those who are baptized suffer their death with Christ once and for all. Now they are dead. The daily dying of the Christian is now merely a consequence of the one death that has already taken place in baptism, just as a tree dies whose roots have been cut off. Those who have been baptized live henceforth under the motto: “Consider yourselves dead to sin” (Rom. 6:11). They know themselves only as those who have already died, as those who have already undergone everything that is necessary for salvation. Those who have been baptized draw their life not from a real repetition of Christ’s death, which would have to be accomplished ever anew as an act of grace. Instead, their life springs from looking back again and again, placing their faith in Christ’s death as an act of grace which has already been fully accomplished in their baptism. They live out of the once-and-for-allness of Christ’s death.

The fact that baptism can take place once and only once has important consequences with regard to infant baptism. The question is not whether or not infant baptism is really baptism. But precisely because it is indeed baptism, that baptism that takes place only once and cannot be repeated, infant baptism requires certain restrictions in its use. True, it was certainly not a sign of a healthy church life when, in the second and third centuries, believing Christians postponed their baptism until they reached old age or were already on their deathbeds. But this practice nonetheless speaks of a clear insight into the nature of baptismal grace, an insight which is widely lacking today. With regard to infant baptism this means that the sacrament should be administered only where it is certain that the act of salvation already accomplished once and for all will be repeatedly remembered in faith. And that can only be the case in a living church-community. Infant baptism without the church-community is not only an abuse of the sacrament. It also betrays a reprehensible thoughtlessness in dealing with the children’s spiritual welfare, for baptism can never be repeated.

For those who were called, Jesus’ call was equally unique and unrepeatable. Whoever followed him had died to their previous life. This is why Jesus had to require his disciples to leave all they had. Both the finality of their decision and the complete sufficiency of the gift they received from their Lord needed to be clearly expressed. “But if salt has lost its taste, how can its saltiness be restored?”[26] It could not be stated any more pointedly than this that Jesus’ gift was offered and received once and once only. Having taken their life from them, he now sought to give them a life that was full and complete. And so he gave them his cross. That was the gift of baptism to the first disciples.[1]

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Encouragement for the Path of Christian Discipleship



[1] Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Discipleship, ed. Martin Kuske et al., trans. Barbara Green and Reinhard Krauss, vol. 4, Dietrich Bonhoeffer Works (Minneapolis, MN: Fortress Press, 2003), 209–212.

Wednesday, June 15, 2022

Stuck in the Middle with You – Psalm 118 – Purity 758

Stuck in the Middle with You – Psalm 118 – Purity 758

Purity 758 06/15/2022  Purity 758 Podcast

Good morning,

Today’s photo  an out cropping of rock and a natural water fall comes to us from a friend who recently decided to stretch their legs and remember a departed loved one by hiking the Catskill Mountains, as they brought a photo of their friend with them and took photos of it at various locations along the way, stating that the Catskills were the closest place to heaven in Greene County and that they were enjoying treasured memories of days gone by and sharing the magnificent views they encountered with thoughts of their friend every step of the way.

Well its Wednesday and I share this photo taken along the trail heading up a mountain to remind us all of the natural beauty that is out there waiting to be discovered and to remind us that we are headed up the “hump” of the midpoint of the work week.  

Speaking of work, I was out late last night at my second job as a Psychiatric Tech for the Mobile Crisis Assessment Team and am scrambling to “get er done this morning” as I am seeking to simultaneously encourage my friends on the path of Christian Discipleship and activate my new iphone, which is an early birthday present to myself as I hit the big “5-0” in 10 days.   This hurried multi-tasking might prove to be foolish especially considering the fact that  I didn’t get home until after midnight and have already altered my regular routine by “sleeping in” and forgoing my normal exercise regimen and will have to satisfy my craving for God’s word by revisiting some of the content of yesterday’s Bible study by sharing Psalm 118.  

As always the Lord knows our situations and as “coincidence has it” it turns out that Psalm 118 is completely appropriate for sharing on “hump day” because if you didn’t know it, Psalm 118:8 is the middle point in the Bible! That’s right if you take the content of the Bible and divide it in half you would see Psalm 118:8.  Don’t ask my what industrious Bible scholar determined that but I will take it on faith that this Bible fact is true.  

But is it meaningful? Is the middle verse in the Bible say something that would satisfy the curious or indicate that the Bible is not just some book but is the inspired word of God.  Well let’s look at it and you tell me what you think:

Psalm 118:8 (NKJV) says
8  It is better to trust in the LORD Than to put confidence in man.

I don’t know about you but that sort of gives me goose bumps. Imagine it. Someone decides to give the Bible a shot and opens it to the middle point of the scriptures and this is what they find! “It is better to trust in the LORD Than to put confidence in man.”  I don’t know about you but that would cause me to keep reading.  

And that’s what happened to me when after 38 years of doing things my way in a life of ups, and downs, and error and confusion, I heard a gospel message that adequately explained to me., as if for the first time, the fact that it Christ died for my sins and it only required a simple act of faith, by making Jesus my Lord and Savior, to receive the free gift of God’s forgiveness, eternal life,  and entrance into His kingdom. 

After I said yes to Jesus, I was far from perfect but I had a perfect hunger to pursue the truth of who Christ was and how I should live after I had received such an awesome gift.   So I started reading the Bible to figure this thing out and to try to be an authentic Christian. 

And if you are new to the Bible, I would say that the midpoint in the Bible is a great place to start your journey to get to know God more as the use of some of the verses from Psalm 118 in the New Testament, make it the most quoted psalm in the New Testament.  Let’s read it and you will see why:  

Psalm 118:1-29 (NKJV)
1  Oh, give thanks to the LORD, for He is good! For His mercy endures forever.
2  Let Israel now say, "His mercy endures forever."
3  Let the house of Aaron now say, "His mercy endures forever."
4  Let those who fear the LORD now say, "His mercy endures forever."
5  I called on the LORD in distress; The LORD answered me and set me in a broad place.
6  The LORD is on my side; I will not fear. What can man do to me?
7  The LORD is for me among those who help me; Therefore I shall see my desire on those who hate me.
8  It is better to trust in the LORD Than to put confidence in man.
9  It is better to trust in the LORD Than to put confidence in princes.
10  All nations surrounded me, But in the name of the LORD I will destroy them.
11  They surrounded me, Yes, they surrounded me; But in the name of the LORD I will destroy them.
12  They surrounded me like bees; They were quenched like a fire of thorns; For in the name of the LORD I will destroy them.
13  You pushed me violently, that I might fall, But the LORD helped me.
14  The LORD is my strength and song, And He has become my salvation.
15  The voice of rejoicing and salvation Is in the tents of the righteous; The right hand of the LORD does valiantly.
16  The right hand of the LORD is exalted; The right hand of the LORD does valiantly.
17  I shall not die, but live, And declare the works of the LORD.
18  The LORD has chastened me severely, But He has not given me over to death.
19  Open to me the gates of righteousness; I will go through them, And I will praise the LORD.
20  This is the gate of the LORD, Through which the righteous shall enter.
21  I will praise You, For You have answered me, And have become my salvation.
22  The stone which the builders rejected Has become the chief cornerstone.
23  This was the LORD'S doing; It is marvelous in our eyes.
24  This is the day the LORD has made; We will rejoice and be glad in it.
25  Save now, I pray, O LORD; O LORD, I pray, send now prosperity.
26  Blessed is he who comes in the name of the LORD! We have blessed you from the house of the LORD.
27  God is the LORD, And He has given us light; Bind the sacrifice with cords to the horns of the altar.
28  You are my God, and I will praise You; You are my God, I will exalt You.
29  Oh, give thanks to the LORD, for He is good! For His mercy endures forever.

There are some familiar verses in that psalm for sure and even though it is in the new Testament its content points us right to Jesus Christ as the Messiah.   

And although I am running and gunning this morning with a hectic pace, that’s all I want to do, point my friends to Jesus Christ: to not only admire Him as a good example but to trust, believe and obey Him as one of His many disciples.  

The entrance into the kingdom through a prayer or and act of faith that specifically claims Him as your Lord and Savior is only the beginning of our new and eternal life in Christ.  

And even thought the road as a Christian may be difficult at times,  when you are walking and talking with God and have made Christ the Lord of your life, you can somehow have peace in the midst of any storm, as God Himself through the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit, is stuck in the middle with you.   

So if you are in a hurry or not, keep going on your search to discover who God is, who you are, and what the purpose He has for you in this life.  As Psalm 118:says, if you can’t trust me, trust in the Lord because: “It is better to trust in the LORD Than to put confidence in man.

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

This morning’s meditation verse is:

1 John 4:17 (NLT2)
17  And as we live in God, our love grows more perfect. So we will not be afraid on the day of judgment, but we can face him with confidence because we live like Jesus here in this world.

Today’s Bible verse reminds us that we can face the Lord with confidence on the day of judgement when we “live like Jesus in this world”  and that our love grows “more perfect” as we live in God.   

So much for “just believing”.  Phrases like “just believe” or “just have faith” will undoubtedly be good encouragements as we attempt to live out our Christian faith authentically but those phrases are not to be intended to be the one or final instruction.

As today’s verse indicates, we are to have a lifestyle and a mindset of Christian as we are directed to “live like Jesus here in this world.” We are supposed to follow Christ in the way we live.  

And not only will we benefit from making “good choices” as a natural result of cause and effect relationships, when we decide to follow Jesus and live “in God” (talk about an immersive experience) we will have confidence in our security when the day of judgement comes but our love will grow “more perfect”.  

God’s love is perfect and when experience it we know that to be true. God is the higher love that Steve Winwood was looking for. “Bring me a higher love!” Well, Steve if you live “in God” by following Christ’s example in the way that you live in this world, the higher love will be brought right to your doorstep every day you Abide in Him.  

So let’s be encourage to become “more perfect” in love by sharing the love that we have received from God in the way we live here on the earth.  We can have confidence that when we are in Christ we have nothing to fear and we have been given an incredible purpose to experience and to share the love of God.

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

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

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

The Burning of the Magical Books in Ephesus: Acts 19

Luke also gives us an incredible account about a situation involving magic during Paul’s ministry at Ephesus (Acts 19:13–20). It reinforces the impression that Ephesus was a center of magical practices during the first century. Luke tells us about some itinerant Jewish exorcists, who attempted to use the name of Jesus as part of their exorcism on a man troubled with an evil spirit. Tragically unsuccessful, they were physically assaulted by the demon-controlled man so that “they fled out of that house naked and wounded.” As a result, numerous people brought out their books of magical formulas and incantations and burned them. The combined value of the books was estimated by Luke to be worth as much as 50,000 days’ wages.

This account is very important for understanding the social and religious situation of the early Christian churches. Luke here gives the distinct impression that those who were burning their magical texts were already Christians. He observes, “Many of those who believed now came and openly confessed their evil deeds. A number who had practiced sorcery brought their scrolls together and burned them publicly” (19:18–19a). It underlines the temptation faced by early believers to return to their former practices, in particular, magic.

Summary

Luke is concerned to show that the gospel of the Lord Jesus and the power of God are indeed mightier than any opposition. Luke also clearly ties magical practices and divination to the work of Satan and his powers. In all of these instances the work of the devil through these people hindered the progress of the gospel. The power of God working through his messengers needed to confront and overcome Satanic opposition.

Each of these accounts in the book of Acts also raises issues that are relevant to understanding better what the apostle Paul has to say about principalities and powers. It helps us clarify the felt needs of the readers Paul addressed in his letters. They would naturally be filled with questions as they sought to make sense of Christianity in light of the religious and magical environment in which they lived. They would ask questions such as: How should converts from a background in the occult and spiritism live in light of their newfound faith in the Lord Jesus? What should they believe about the powers they once thought served them and the powers they feared? Were some of them still to be considered good and others evil? Where does Christ stand in relation to these spirit beings and supernatural powers? Can one still be devoted to Christ and wear an amulet for protection? How should the church respond to non-Christians involved in spiritism?

Knowing the questions that would undoubtedly have been on the minds of new believers in the first century will help the New Testament come alive when we consider the things Paul has to say about principalities and powers.[1]

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Encouragement for the Path of Christian Discipleship



[1] Clinton E. Arnold, Powers of Darkness: Principalities & Powers in Paul’s Letters (Downers Grove, IL: IVP Academic: An Imprint of InterVarsity Press, 1992), 33–34.

 

Monday, June 13, 2022

Never Not Amazing – Our Walk with God – Purity 756


Never Not Amazing – Our Walk with God – Purity 756

Purity 756 06/13/2022  Purity 756 Podcast

Good morning,

Today’s photo of clouds and  blue skies over the surrounding green shoreline from the vantage point of the waters of Lake George comes to us from a friend’s Sunday afternoon boating excursion that they shared on social media with the comment “Lake George will never not be amazing”.  

For any of my friends, who are not familiar of with this large lake in “the real upstate”, I would have to concur with my friend’s assessment of the lake, it is amazing, but I would encourage that if you visit Lake George to definitely take a boat tour, or better yet rent a boat, to explore the vast expanses and travel the length of the lake to get a true idea of just how large and amazing the lake that God has made really is.   

Well, its Monday again and  I love my friend’s comment about Lake George. It “will never not be amazing.”  That’s a bold claim, but my friend makes it because he has not only seen it from the shores of the public beaches, he has seen it from his kayak and from a friend’s rented boat, has done some overnight camping there, and he has seen, it at different seasons of the year. He might not be an expert regarding Lake George but he definitely has a relationship with the lake that goes beyond just seeing it in passing while driving by on Beach Rd or from just making an afternoon visit to one of the Village of Lake George’s public beaches.  He knows the lake, not perfectly I’m sure but, he knows it and recognizes how amazing it is and doesn’t preface his claim that it’s quality of amazement is subject to “just the right” conditions – like it’s amazing on sunny days in June.  No, my friend’s words state that the amazing quality of Lake George is always there to enjoy, and it is, but I think we can all agree that experiencing the amazement of the lake has a lot to do with your relationship with the lake, your appreciation of it, and your awareness or perspective of the God made wonder that lies before you.  

My friend’s words reminds me of my relationship with the Lord and how, because of who He is, it will “never not be amazing”.   

After a wonderful weekend spent with my wife at my countryside home, I drove home yesterday afternoon and reflected on my relationship with her and how my journey of faith and my relationship with the Lord was directly responsible for meeting this faithful woman who would agree to be my wife in less than a year’s time. 

She met me because of my podcast, which I did to try expand the reach of the new discipleship ministry that I started at my old church, which I did to try to help other Christians to experience their freedom in Christ, because the Lord had led me to experience my Freedom in Christ, after I agreed to repent of the darkness of my past, which was a response to the decision I made to seek the Lord’s will for my life and to be authentic in my Christian faith, which was a response to a gospel radio message that caused me to understand that I could be forgiven of my sins and given eternal life by making Jesus my Lord and Savior. I could go further back to give the testimony of the radio preacher’s testimony and why and how He became a pastor and how the Lord moved in their life, a part of which was described in the radio message that helped save my life, but I think you get the idea.   The testimony never ends, for each Christian’s testimony goes back to the person of Jesus Christ.   

Not only does our testimony go back to Christ, it would then go back through the Old Testament Scriptures to creation itself.   The Christian faith, the family of God, goes back to the beginning of, and fall of man, when God prophetically spoke of His redemptive plan, stating how Eve’s offspring, her Seed  (capital S) one day would “bruise” the head of the serpent,  ) – meaning how Jesus would defeat the powers of darkness, sin and the grave.   

But to see that long winding trail through the history of man, you have to have a relationship with God and His word. Talk about “Amazing Stories”!  And this one is a true one that we get to be a part of. 

The mere fact that we have been welcomed into the kingdom of God and adopted in to His royal family through our faith in Christ should make us realize the our relationship with God “will never not be amazing!”

 But just like how we could only have a passing knowledge of Lake George, or not really “get it” or appreciate it,  we could similarly have a shallow understanding of God and not have  the robust relationship with God that He silently invites us to explore. 

When we continue to seek God’s presence, relate to Him through prayer and the study of His word, and when we reflect on who we are in Christ and our continuing relationship with Him, we will understand how our relationship with God will “never not be amazing” because not only do we get to reflect on and rejoice over who God is, what He has done, and how He made, saved, and moved our lives but we get to be amazed over what He is doing here and now, today,  and who we are in Christ, here and now, today, and how our lives are forever connected.    

So even though it’s Monday, remember your relationship with God, that never ends when you make Christ your Lord and Savior, and enjoy the fact that there will never be a time when your relationship with Him will not be amazing!.

The only thing that will change about our amazing relationship with God will be the specifics of the details of how we are interacting with God and how we are appreciating and enjoying our relationship with Him. 

If we get too caught up in the things of this world or we get so overwhelmed by the problems that surround us, we could unwittingly choose to not spend time in our amazing relationship with God and we will suffer for it because we will be all over the place emotionally and mentally as our thoughts and moods will be tied to the changing circumstances of our lives rather than the steady and constant acceptance, security, and significance that comes from being grounded in our relationship with our Heavenly Father.  

So keep walking and talking with God. Look around at the amazing things in this world that God has made. Remember the amazing things that God has done throughput history that is documented in the word of God.  Remember how He has brought you from death to life through faith in Jesus and all the things that He has done in your life since. And then rejoice, and remember that your amazing relationship with God will never end and it continues today. The more time we spend seeking the Lord and His will for our lives, the more rewarding our relationship will be – but whether it includes spectacular moves of God or is just expressed by an abiding peace, there will never be a day where our relationship with God is not amazing.  



______________________________________________________________

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

This morning’s meditation verse is:

1 John 4:10 (NLT2)
10  This is real love—not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as a sacrifice to take away our sins.

Today’s Bible verse tells us what real love is: the love of God that is expressed sacrificially as He sent Jesus to pay the penalty for our sins and to give us eternal life through faith in Him.   

Nope, we didn’t earn our forgiveness or “make up” for our sins because of our great love for God.  All our efforts would have failed to pay our sins of cosmic betrayal that was expressed every time we dismissed God’s word or broke His commandments.  

We might be able to have a small idea of the depth of our sins by imaigining having a child, or a pet maybe, that although you “created”, loved, and raised – didn’t repay you with love and affection but instead took every opportunity to disobey your commands and instructions, took delight in their rebellion, and either cursed your name or chose to treat you like you didn’t exist!  And not only did this child, or pet, have one “terrible, horrible, no good very bad day”, they had years and years and years of willful, or ignorant, disobedience and rebellion and somehow had the audacity to demand they be provided for and cared for at great cost to you.   

That gives us a small idea of the depth of our sin.   You can’t pay that back. 

But God not only forgives us our sin through the sacrifice of Christ, He also freely welcomes us into His family with no hard feelings and no conditions other than putting your faith in the One who died for you.   

Such great love, such great mercy, such great grace, must be understood and appreciated.  We have been forgiven everything when we didn’t deserve it and it cost Christ suffering and death but He paid it, so we could live.   

So appreciate God’s real love for you by seeking to know Him more and to share the good news of what real love is with others who desperately need it.  

 

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

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

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

The Uses for Magic

Magic is often described in terms of white and black (or good and evil). Professor David Aune suggests four major ways to describe the purpose of magic in the Greco-Roman world: (1) protective or apotropaic magic (particularly against dreaded illnesses), (2) aggressive and malevolent magic, (3) love magic and magic aimed at the acquisition of power over others, and (4) magical divination or revelation. We have seen examples of the first three uses in the previous section, and we will discuss the fourth use in more detail below.

Amulets and charms were commonly used for protective magic. It was believed the injurious work of malevolent spirits could be repelled with an effective amulet.

Like the use of a rabbit’s foot today, amulets were also used to bring good luck. Two ancient writers relate the humorous account of an Ephesian wrestler who traveled to Olympia, Greece, to compete in the Olympic games. The wrestler attached an amulet to his ankle that had the Ephesian letters inscribed on it. These were six magical names, probably referring to six powerful supernatural beings. The Ephesian wrestler was readily defeating his opponents and advancing in the event until the referee discovered the ankle bracelet! He then lost three successive matches.

Amulets were sometimes made out of precious stones (thought to contain special magical properties). More often, cheap and easily accessible materials were used, such as papyri, pottery pieces (ostraca), tin strips, linen and seashells. At times, the magical recipe for constructing an amulet called for a special kind of material like hyena parchment. Amulets were usually worn somewhere on the body, for instance, as a ring or a necklace. Virtually thousands of magical amulets have been found all over the Mediterranean world.

Black magic (aggressive and malevolent magic) was frequently performed using inscribed sheets of thin lead. Over 1100 of these “lead curse tablets,” or defixiones, have been discovered throughout the Mediterranean world. Together with the magical papyri and amulets, these sources constitute our most important witness for understanding the nature of magic in the Greco-Roman world.

A lead curse tablet typically consisted of a magical formula with a curse written on a leaf of lead. Usually the tablet was rolled up and pierced by a nail to symbolize the “fix” on a victim. The tablet would then be deposited in a place where it was thought to have easy contact with the underworld, such as a grave, tomb or well. This procedure would then effect the curse, which would be carried out by supernatural means against the victim. One of the curse tablets discovered in Rome is directed against a competitor in a chariot race:

I conjure you up, holy beings and holy names; join in aiding this spell, and bind, enchant, thwart, strike, overturn, conspire against, destroy, kill, break Eucherius the charioteer, and all his horses tomorrow in the circus at Rome. May he not leave the barriers well; may he not be quick in the contest; may he not outstrip anyone; may he not make the turns well; may he not win any prizes … may he be broken; may he be dragged along by your power, in the morning and afternoon races. Now! Now! Quickly! Quickly!

Spirit Guides

Some people were attracted to magic because of the power it would bring to them through acquiring a spirit guide or assistant daimōn. In this type of magic a special formula was used to summon the services of a god (or daimōn). One magical text prescribes a rite in which “a daimōn comes as an assistant who will reveal everything to you clearly and will be your companion and will eat and sleep with you.” The spirit helper might stay with the person for a long period of time. One formula commands the spirit to “be inseparable from me from this day forth through all the time of my life.”

This mighty spirit assistant would help the person in all kinds of ways, as the following text shows:

It is acknowledged that he is a god; he is an aerial spirit which you have seen. If you give him a command, straight-way he performs the task: he sends dreams, he brings women, men without the use of magical material, he kills, he destroys, he stirs up winds from the earth, he carries gold, silver, bronze, and he gives them to you whenever the need arises. And he frees from bonds a person chained in prison, he opens doors, he causes invisibility so that no one can see you at all, he is a bringer of fire, he brings water, wine, bread.… He will quickly bring daimons [for a banquet], and for you he will adorn these servants with sashes. These things he does quickly. And as soon as you order him to perform a service, he will do so, and you will see him excelling on other things: He stops ships and again releases them, he stops very many evil daimons.

The text continues by naming numerous other services the spirit would perform and then concludes with the following summary statement and imposition of secrecy:

He will serve you suitably for whatever you have in mind, O blessed initiate of the sacred magic, and will accomplish it for you, this most powerful assistant, who is also the only lord of the air. And the gods will agree to everything, for without him nothing happens. Share this great mystery with no one else, but conceal it, by Helios, since you have been deemed worthy by the lord god.

To use modern terminology, undoubtedly an initiate into this type of magic was “possessed” by the spirit. The person using this kind of magic, however, clearly believed he was receiving a good, helpful spirit and not an evil one. In fact, the recipe asserts that this spirit would drive away the evil daimones. Those who practiced magic thus believed they had to be very cautious and discerning about which spirits were evil and which were good.

Divination

There were a number of methods of divining the future in the Greco-Roman period. Some involved the use of lamps, bowls and saucers. Other methods involved the examination of the liver or the observation of strange occurrences in nature (omens), like the birth of a deformed child or the odd behavior of animals. The art of astrology also had a large part in divination.

One aspect of divination, revelatory magic, bears many similarities to the modern New Age movement’s practice of channeling. This form of magic involved soliciting the appearance of a divine assistant to impart information regarding the future, or virtually anything else. By using the proper formulas, a supernatural being could be forced to divulge all kinds of secretive information.

One of these spells involved a “serpent faced” god: “Invoke the great name in a time of great stress, in major and pressing crises. If not, you will blame yourself.… I call upon you [thirty-one magical names].… Come in, lord, and reveal. The serpent-faced god will come in and answer you. When you dismiss him, make an offering of the skin of a serpent.” Here, presumably, the suppliant could gain wisdom and perspective in order to gain control over the crisis situation.

More than one spirit could be summoned simultaneously. The following text seems concerned to call up many powerful evil spirits. The formula reads:

I call upon you, inhabitants of Chaos and Erebos [the underworld], of the depth, of earth, watchers of heaven, of darkness, masters of things not to be seen, guardians of secrets, leaders of those beneath the earth, administrators of things which are infinite, those who wield power over earth, servants in the chasm, shudderful fighters, fearful ministers, inhabitants of dark Erebos, coercive watchers, rulers of cliffs, grievers of the heart, adverse daimons, iron-hearted ones [seven magical names are given].

These powers are all called to “reveal concerning the matter which I am considering.” Someone would use these formulas not merely to satisfy an intense curiosity about what the future held, but also as a means of gaining some measure of control over the future. In magic, fate is something that is not unalterable. In fact, the very purpose of magic is to alter the unfolding of fate.

Revelatory magic offered insight not only into the events of the future, but about anything a person may want to know. It was a means of gaining power, influence and control.[1]

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Encouragement for the Path of Christian Discipleship



[1] Clinton E. Arnold, Powers of Darkness: Principalities & Powers in Paul’s Letters (Downers Grove, IL: IVP Academic: An Imprint of InterVarsity Press, 1992), 27–31.