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

Thursday, July 22, 2021

He Will Make Your Paths Straight: God’s Direction – Purity 477

 He Will Make Your Paths Straight: God’s Direction 

Purity 477 07/22/2021  Purity 477 Podcast

Good morning

Today’s photo of a palm tree lined roadway running through the Valley of Temples in Kaneohe Hawaii comes to us from a friend whose journey to the islands back in June included a memorial pilgrimage. I believe this road is on a stretch of road called Memory Slope and curiosity of the location uncovered the fact that burial plots are still available there with prices as little as five thousand dollars for an individual plot.  So if you wanted to be resurrected in the Pacific paradise of Hawaii when Christ returns, the cost of your spot in the Valley of Temples would be that of nice vacation, travel costs not included. 

But seriously, I chose today’s photo not to be morbid but because it’s Thursday and I love to highlight photos of pathways, or roads, to encourage people to follow their faith to the pathway of Christian discipleship. I will be teaching another class based on Neil Anderson’s the Bondage Breaker at Rock Solid Church in Hudson NY this evening at 6:30 pm, and I invite everyone to join me, either at the church or by listening in via the mt4Christ247 podcast. Tonight’s topic is temptation and I hope you’re tempted to check it out.  

As for today’s photo, I just love the way the palm trees, and memorials line the road as a contrast of life and death and how the clouds seem to have split right where the road     d runs as if God is welcoming us to come on up to heaven.  Although it looks like we may need to get a running start and make our ascent before we run into that speed bump!

You can’t speed through a cemetery! Somebody might get killed!

But seriously, again the good thing about making peace with God by putting our faith in Jesus Christ is that we don’t have to fear death and we don’t have to run to try to earn our place in His kingdom.  Our entrance to God’s kingdom is a free gift and our walk of faith is God’s invitation to experience a little bit of heaven on earth by choosing to follow His lead to experience the peace and joy that come from being in harmony with Him.  

No matter what speed bumps the world puts in our way, when we walk with the Lord by faith in the power of the Holy Spirit we can not only overcome the obstacles in our way, but our direction also becomes clear as if the heavens open up to show us the way we should go.  However, if we are looking at our feet and are consumed by the things of this earth we can miss the clear path that is provided for us by our heavenly Father.  

I have had a few things come up recently, possible invitations from the Lord to “come and see”. And to be honest, I immediately dismissed them as simply not possible and stopped thinking about them all together. But this morning in prayer, suddenly these “invitations” came up again in my spirit. I immediately pointed out that we couldn’t do it, although it was more like I didn’t want to do it because of selfish reasons and maybe a little fear because I questioned my capacity to meet the challenges being presented.   But today, I was presented with a simple solution to the “impossible” and I knew it didn’t come from me.   So, when you walk by faith, you stop and recognize that you are being called again to try something new, to stretch your limits and abilities and even though some arrangements will need to be made, you feel in your spirit that you want to see where God will bring you next.  

Hey sometimes you walk along doing the same old thing long enough and you think you’ve finally found a comfortable routine and then suddenly things start to change. We can choose the path of resistance and try to stay where we are, or we can be open to the mystery of where the Lord is leading us and trust Him to guide our path into another adventure.       

As for me, when I receive intuitions to try something new or to do something good, I’ve found that it’s better to answer the call and follow rather than running the risk that you will miss out or even worse, get dragged along kicking and screaming into what the Lord wants for you anyway.  

So follow the road you’re on but be prepared for those speed bumps and don’t be surprised if God invites you to take an unexpected detour into a new direction where you will have to trust Him and walk by faith.


This morning’s meditation verse is:

1 Peter 4:16 (NKJV)
16 Yet if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God in this matter.

Today’s verse reminds us that living as a Christian is not always a bed of roses but encourages us to glorify God when we are proven to be His.   

A faith that is not tested is not real faith.  Unfortunately, the masses will not applaud your decision to make Jesus your Lord and Savior and to live a Christian life. 

True story: before I got saved, one Christmas, yes one Christmas, I greeted my brother Matt, who we only see a few times a year, by joking that I had made Jesus my Lord and Savior.  Ha Ha!  Because obviously, I would never be one of those born-again Christians! Ha Ha! Hey man. let’s drink!

Obviously, things have dramatically changed, and the joke was on me!

But my mocking a devout Christian lifestyle is just one example how the world is opposed to anyone who would boldly proclaim the exclusivity of Christ to save and the intention to live by faith.  

Probably, not surprisingly, I have suffered the loss of many relationships because of my faith.  The losses reveal the depths of those relationships and the spiritual status of those who walked away.  But to my delight, the vast majority of my friends have remained and while they may not understand what happened to me and may not fully agree with me, our relationship as friends continues.  

My first world rejections and slights pale in comparison with the persecution that other Christians are currently suffering from, but it shows me two things:

1.    I’m definitely a child of God.   When you face negative consequences for your faith and you still remain committed to proclaim the gospel and live a Christian life, you have been proven to be a disciple of Jesus Christ. Christ said that we would suffer for our faith and when we run into opposition or hate, His promise is proven true, but it also proves you are His. 

2.    It’s worth it.  As scripture says, the sufferings that we will endure on earth do not compare to the riches that we receive from being His.   Not only are we saved from judgement and death, but we are blessed with God’s presence, guidance, and love as we walk through this life.  As hard and as trying as our lives of faith may be at times, as Peter said, when we know the Lord there is simply no where else to go.  

So, no matter what hardships or rejection you may face in walking out a life of Christian Discipleship, remember that those tests not only are worth it and prove you to be a King’s kid, they also give glory to God.  Your endurance and patience in suffering gives glory to the One who gave you everything.  Take comfort in His love, know that He cares, and keep walking and talking with God come what may.  


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

Today we continue with Dr. Neil Anderson’s Victory Over the Darkness, continuing Chapter 8.

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

Proper Guidelines Lead to a Proper Walk

5. Happiness. Key Concept: Wanting What You Have

The world's concept of happiness is having what we want. Madison Avenue tells us we need a flashier car, a sexier cologne or any number of items that are better, faster or easier to use than what we already have. We watch the commercials and read the ads, and we become antsy to acquire all the latest fashions, fads, and fancy doodads. We are not really happy until we get what we want.

God's concept of happiness is summed up in the simple proverb: "Happy is the man who wants what he has." As long as you are focusing on what you don't have, you will be unhappy. When you begin to appreciate what you already have, however, you will be happy all your life.

Paul wrote to Timothy, "But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it. But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that" (1 Tim. 6:6-8, NIV).

Actually, you already have everything you need to make you happy forever. You have Christ. You have eternal life. You are loved by a heavenly Father who has promised to supply all your needs. No wonder the Bible repeatedly commands us to be thankful (see 1 Thes. 5:18). If you really want to be happy, learn to be content with life and thankful for what you already have in Christ.

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

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


God bless you all!


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

at, You can also find it on Apple podcasts ( The mt4christ247 podcast is also available on Google Podcasts, Amazon Podcasts, Spotify, iHeartradio, and 

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


Encouragement for the Path of Christian Discipleship

Thursday, July 1, 2021

The Pathway to Happy Valley - Purity 459

The Pathway to Happy Valley

Purity 459 07/01/2021  Purity 459 Podcast

Good morning  

Today’s photo comes to us from Dave Baun Photography as our friends Down Under got a case of “Go fever” when they took to their bicycles.  Intending to take a relatively short ride to McLaren Vale, they pushed the envelope and completely circumnavigated the entire Onkaparinga River National Park area by taking a long route back that took them to the outskirts of Happy Valley on their journey home.

They documented their route on the Strava app, that runners and cyclists us to track their progress. The Strava App was also how Dave, a yank from Pennsylvania, met the love of His life, Liisa, half a world way in South Adelaide Australia where they married and now reside.  Who knew that God would use a cycling app to bring two people from different countries together in the happy valley of marriage!  If you want to see the wedding video, look in the archives of the mt4christ dot org blog.  

Today’s is Thursday and I shared Dave’s photo to share his amazing love story once again, but I also shared it because his photo, taken somewhere along that 81-kilometer bike ride, that’s 50.3 miles for those of us in the US, features a pathway.  As is my habit I share photos of pathways on Thursday because I teach a Christian Discipleship class at Rock Solid Church tonight and I wish to encourage others to join us on the pathway of Christian Discipleship.    If you are not local to me, you can always listen in to the classes on the mt4christ247 podcast.    

I wasn’t always on this path of Christian Discipleship myself as I didn’t truly make Jesus my Lord and Savior until I was 38 years old. Since than I have discovered that the answers to all of life’s questions are in God’s Word and that peace beyond understanding and circumstance is possible through faith in Jesus Christ Alone.

In Christ, we are given victory over sin and death the moment we are saved but we will not experience our victory unless we pick up our cross daily and follow Jesus. We need to renew our minds and live our lives by faith in the power of the Holy Spirit to experience the limitless joys of our freedom in Christ.   

Nobody is perfect of course, so we have to learn how to live by faith. We must understand what that means and begin to practice what we profess in our daily lives. The Lord knows that I have learned with a lot of trials and a lot of error, but I know now that when you surrender your ways and ideas about life for God’s wisdom and ways the result is an abiding peace that comes from your harmonious relationship with Him.      

So set out, or continue, on the path of Christian Discipleship by renewing your mind with God’s word and by implementing the Lord’s ways for your life. When you do that, you will discover that the Lord will lead you out of the pits of confusion, fear, and darkness and bring you to your own happy valley.      

This morning’s meditation verse is:

1 Peter 4:14 (NKJV)
14 If you are reproached for the name of Christ, blessed are you, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you. On their part He is blasphemed, but on your part He is glorified.

Today’s verse reminds us that the Christian path is not always an easy one, but it also assures us that the opposition we face honors God.   

To reproach means to address someone in such a way to express disapproval or disappointment. When you leave the kingdom of darkness behind by making Jesus your Lord and Savior, you can expect reproach and possibly from the people closest to you in your life.  

When you turn to God and turn from your sin, you become a light in the world that exposes the darkness of others. Your vocal expression of your faith and your mere presence become a source of conviction for those who are outside of God’s grace or who are not living according to God’s ways.  

If you haven’t suffered the loss of relationships because of your faith, you must have been the black sheep surrounded by Christians because for most people who come to faith in Christ and who share the gospel with those around them broken friendships and family discord are common.  

Christ said that the world hated Him so it will also hate His followers. He also promised that His disciples would be persecuted.  The martyrdom of the Apostles and countless saints, aka believers, from antiquity until now testifies of the truth of Christ’s warning.   

So are we to lash out when people reproach us? 

No, as 1 Peter 4:14 indicates the reproaches we receive may be seen as blasphemy for those who speak ill of us, but they are evidence that the Spirit of God resides in us. 

Christ’s disciples are to be known by our fruit and one of the fruits of the Spirit is patience.  We will have to have patience as we face reproach and persecution, but we can have a measure of joy in our sufferings by the fact that it confirms our faith in Christ, and it glorifies God.  

Christ went to the cross for the glory set before Him. The Apostles rejoiced as they were counted worthy to suffer persecution for the sake of Christ.  Likewise we should take any reproaches directed at us as an assurance of our faith and with a compassionate heart towards those who disparage us because they are blind to God’s goodness and are in grave danger on the road to perdition.    

So take the reproaches that come your way, thank God you are His, and in return speak the truth in love that has the power to save.

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


Today we continue with Dr. Neil Anderson’s Victory Over the Darkness, continuing Chapter 5.


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

Being Led by the Spirit

We are also being "led by the Spirit" (Romans 8:14). The Lord used another metaphor to describe our relationship with Him. He is the Shepherd and we are the sheep of His pasture. Sheep need to be shepherded. I know because as a farm boy in Minnesota, I had the privilege to be a shepherd of sheep. In the spring after the snow melted, we would herd the sheep along the roadside for them to eat the fresh green grass. We had to keep them moving or they would eat until they bloated and died. We chased them from the back, just as an Australian sheep dog barks at the heels of the sheep.

While studying in Israel, I watched a shepherd tend his flock on a hillside outside Bethlehem. The shepherd sat on a rock while the sheep grazed. Then he stood up, said a few words to the sheep and walked away. The sheep looked up and followed him. Unlike my experience of chasing the sheep from the back, the shepherds of Israel lead from the front even to this day. Suddenly, the words of Jesus in John 10:27 took on new meaning to me: "My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me." Paul said, "For all who are being led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God" (Romans 8:14).

The Proof Is in the Fruit

How can you know if you are walking according to the flesh or according to the Spirit? Take a look at your life. "Now the deeds of the flesh are evident, which are: immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions, envying, . . . and things like these" (Galatians 5:19-21). These deeds are spiritually dead acts which do not reflect the life of Christ. So if people have outbursts of anger, are they living according to the Spirit? Can they blame someone else for their outburst of anger? No, that is a deed of their flesh. Jesus said, "That which proceeds out of the man, that is what defiles the man" (Mark. 7:20).

We must learn to have enough self-awareness to know when we are living according to the flesh and to assume responsibility for our own attitudes and actions. We need to walk in the light and learn to confess our sins, which means to consciously agree with God. When a deed of the flesh becomes evident, mentally acknowledge that to God and ask Him to fill you with His Holy Spirit. The more you practice that simple little discipline, the more you will live according to the Spirit.

"The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control" (Galatians 5:22, 23). Notice it said fruit, not fruits of the Spirit. Fruit comes from something that is living. It is the result of abiding in Christ and the ultimate expression is love, which is the character of God. "We have come to know and have believed the love which God has for us. God is love, and the one who abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him" (1 John 4:16).


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

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


God bless you all!


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

at, You can also find it on Apple podcasts ( The mt4christ247 podcast is also available on Google Podcasts, Amazon Podcasts, and 

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


Encouragement for the Path of Christian Discipleship


Friday, June 4, 2021

When a White Witch calls upon a Christian: Purity 436

 When a White Witch calls upon a Christian: Purity 436 06/04/2021

Purity 436 Podcast

Good morning.

Today’s photo of a sunrise over Dewey Beach, Delaware’s come from a friend who went away for a short trip to enjoy the Memorial Day weekend with their family. The weather was hit and miss with rain, but they managed to catch this great shot, have some family fun at Rehoboth Funland, and take a few moments to fondly remember their departed father who was a veteran of Korea and Viet Nam.    

I’m currently teaching a class about the spiritual realities in which we live and how things either align with what Jesus taught and God’s redemptive plan for mankind or are of a spirit that will lead to the road of perdition.  

One of the things that has been impressed upon me in this series is the importance of being a light in the darkness and establishing a spiritual heritage with our lives.  As Christians, we need to be people that others turn to when they need hope.  

It’s not always easy to keep a positive outlook and to be a beacon of hope as we are just as vulnerable to troubles in this world as our non-Christian friends and family.   

I have Christian friend who knows all too well how easy it can be to lose our hope due to the cares and concern of the world.   They recently recovered from an extended depressive episode that was caused by fears and anxieties about their ability to provide for their families.  The enemy filled their minds with lies feeding on our friend’s insecurities about their job performance and the fact that they were the sole provider for their family.  The enemy set up a domino effect of fears telling our friend that they would lose their job, become destitute and lose their medical benefits, which would in turn cause their loved ones to get sick and die.   These fears weighed heavy on our friend. They were depressed and anxiety ridden. So bad were their symptoms that their co-workers noticed and ended up suspended from their job so they could seek help.   

The good news is that this person was surrounded by friends and family in the faith who supported them and helped them find their way out of the darkness.  Although they are out of the woods of their dark episode, they are on medical leave and are waiting for the process to move that will allow them to go back to work.  

In the meantime, they have distant family members who they don’t see often that are suffering from cancer, a mother in her 80’s and a daughter in her 60’s.  The mother is an Episcopalian, but the daughter holds occultic beliefs and considers herself a “white witch”.  

Recently, the mother’s condition took a turn for the worse and it became clear that she was in the process of dying.   In her pain and suffering, the mother requested to be comforted with prayer and some of the old hymns she remembered from church. Her faith may have not been active in the past few years but as she faced her death she sought to affirm her faith in Christ through worship. 

The daughter, the white witch, and other family members didn’t feel comfortable or didn’t know what to say to their dying mother.  But they remembered that my friend was a faithful Christian and a nurse so they asked her if she could help their mother with her “church things”.  

Because my friend was on medical leave from her job, she was available, and she agreed to come.  My friend sat with the mother, prayed with her, and together they sang the old church hymns that the mother so fondly remembered.  In the midst of her dying, the mother was comforted and was given peace and hope for what was on the other side of this life.    The mother passed away, but she entered the kingdom of God praising the Lord.   

So, even when we are overcome by the world and the enemy comes into steal our hope and drive us into confusion, the Lord can use it for good.  You wouldn’t think any good would have come from my friend’s depression and troubles at work but because of it she was able to care for someone else in their final moments of life and be a testimony of the hope and peace that is available though faith in Christ.

This world needs the hope of Christ. People are hurting and are turning to other things to find comfort because they don’t feel like the church is the place to find it.  The problem is that they are looking for love, hope, and meaning in all wrong places. People need to know what a relationship with God through faith in Jesus Christ means beyond the misconceptions drawn from a view from outside of the church and Christian stereotypes.

We must be vocal and active enough in our faith so that people will know that we are Christians, but we also must treat those who don’t understand what faith in Christ really means with compassion and grace so that when the times are desperate or a crisis comes, they think of us. 

We are not perfect people, but we know the One who is.  We don’t know everything, but we know the One who does.  We are passing away, but we know the One who can give us eternal life. 

So regardless of our pains or present sufferings, keep your head up because we know the One who has over come the world, sin, and death. He can heal us and can use us to heal others. The hope we have in Christ can give us strength to persevere and can usher others into the kingdom of God.  We are the hope for the world because of Christ in us.  So let your light shine, people will it, and some will be comforted and saved through it.  


This morning’s meditation verse is:

1 Peter 1:3 (NKJV)
3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His abundant mercy has begotten us again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,

Today’s verse makes some basic truth claims of our faith and echoes the sentiment of Christ as our living hope.  

In Peter’s salutation, he states that Christ is the Son of God and that He was resurrected from the dead.  These basic truths must be accepted for someone to find the living hope that comes from faith in Christ.  

As difficult as God’s redemptive plan may be for some to accept, it does have an underlying rationale behind it that makes it reasonable. Redemption through faith in Christ makes sense but you have to believe that Jesus is the Son of God and God the Son.  

The paradoxes of the Trinity and Jesus’ full divinity and full humanity are stumbling blocks that can keep people out of the kingdom of God. 

Now remember, the definition of paradox is “a seemingly absurd or self-contradictory statement or proposition that when investigated or explained may prove to be well founded or true. That’s why I call these doctrines of our faith paradoxes because when they are investigated you discover that they are true.

So the seeming contradiction of Jesus being fully God and fully man is proven through his words of wisdom, his miraculous works, and His resurrection.  For 30 years, Jesus probably was considered a nice but odd character, but no one thought of Him as special. 

The scriptures indicate that when Jesus started His earthly ministry of teaching he wasn’t accepted because He was just seen as “the carpenter’s son”, nobody special.  This criticism shows that Jesus was a man just like us but His mighty miraculous works and resurrection from the dead show He wasn’t. He is fully man and fully God.

As for the sonship of Christ, the gospels reveal that God spoke from heaven above declaring Christ to be His Son on more than one occasion.  

Jesus needed to be fully God and fully man because He had to be. To pay for an infinite number of sins and to impute his righteousness to a potentially infinite amount of people, Jesus had to be God and He is. 

On our own there is no hope for us.  But through the power of God in Christ, we have the hope of eternal life.   So share the truth of who Jesus is and let people know that through Him they have the hope of a new life now and for evermore.

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


Today we continue with Dr. Neil Anderson’s Victory Over the Darkness, continuing in Chapter 1, with the section on “The Effects of the Fall”

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

Figure 1-B

The Effects of the Fall

Unfortunately, the idyllic setting in the Garden of Eden was shattered. Genesis 3 tells the sad story of Adam and Eve's lost relationship with God through sin. The effects of their fall were dramatic, immediate and far reaching, infecting every subsequent member of the human race.

Spiritual Death

What happened to Adam and Eve spiritually because of the Fall? They died. Their union with God was severed and they were separated from God. God had specifically said, "You must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat of it you will surely die" (Genesis 2:17, NIV). They ate and they died.

Did they die physically? Not immediately, although physical death would be a consequence of the Fall as well. They died spiritually; they were separated from God's presence. They were physically cast out of the Garden of Eden and a cherubim waving a flaming sword was stationed at the entrance "to guard the way to the tree of life" (Genesis 3:24). Some believe this act preserved a way back as God's plan of redemption unfolded.

Just as we inherited physical life from our first parents, so we have inherited spiritual death from them (see Romans 5:12; 1 Cor. 15:21, 22). Consequently, every human being who comes into the world is born physically alive but spiritually dead, separated from God (see Ephes. 2:1).

Lost Knowledge of God

What effect did the Fall produce in Adam's mind? He and Eve lost their true perception of reality and the idea of knowing was no longer relational. We read in Genesis 3:7, 8 that they tried to hide from God. Doesn't that reveal a faulty understanding of who God is? How can you hide from an omnipresent God? Their distorted perception of reality reflects Paul's description of the futile thinking of those who don't know God: "They are darkened in their understanding and separated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them due to the hardening of their hearts" (Ephes. 4:18, NIV).

In essence, when Adam and Eve sinned they lost a true knowledge of God. In God's original design, knowledge was relational. The Hebrew concept of knowledge implied an intimate personal relationship. For instance, "Adam knew Eve his wife; and she conceived" (Genesis 4:1, KJV). Yet we don't generally equate a knowledge of someone with personal intimacy. When they sinned and were banished from the garden, Adam and Eve lost their relationship with God and the knowledge of God, which was intrinsic to that relationship.

In our unregenerate state, we may have known something about God, but we didn't know God because we had no relationship with Him. "But a natural man does not accept the things of the Spirit of God; for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually appraised" (1 Cor. 2:14).

The necessity of being in relationship to God to know God comes into sharp focus in John's announcement: "And the Word [logos in the Greek] became flesh" (John 1:14). That was an incredibly significant statement in a world heavily influenced by ancient Greek philosophy. To the Greek philosopher, logos represented the highest form of philosophical knowledge. To say that the Word became flesh meant that the logos was incarnated, that ultimate knowledge became personal and relational. Jesus embodied the truth because He is the truth. You couldn't separate His words from who He is. The Hebrew dabar, translated as "word," also conveyed the ultimate wisdom of God.

The Gospel of John brings these two cultures and dominant concepts together in Christ. God was announcing to the world through John that the true knowledge of God, which can only be discovered in an intimate relationship with God, is now available to the world through God who came in the flesh—Jesus Christ. In Christ we are able to know God personally because we have received the "mind of Christ" (1 Cor. 2:16) in our inner selves at salvation.

This truth has profound implications for Christian education. Knowledge to the western world has become nothing more than the collection of data. That kind of knowledge makes us arrogant, but love edifies (see 1 Cor. 8:1). Paul says, "But the goal of our instruction is love from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith" (1 Tim. 1:5). The truth (Christ and His Word) should set us free and enable us to conform to the image of God. "By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another" (John 13:35).

Dominant Negative Emotions

Adam and Eve were not only darkened in their understanding, but they also became fearful and anxious. The first emotion expressed by fallen humankind was fear (see Genesis 3:10). Fear of anything other than God is mutually exclusive to faith in God. Why is the fear of God the beginning of wisdom (see Proverbs 9:10) and how does it expel all other fears?

As I was writing the book Freedom From Fear with my colleague Rich Miller, I became aware that we are living in an age of anxiety. People around the world are paralyzed by fear of anything and everything but God. Chuck Colson said, "For the church in the West to come alive, it needs to resolve its identity crisis, to stand on truth, to renew its vision . . . and more than anything else, it needs to recover the fear of the Lord."

Another emotional by-product of sin is shame and guilt. Before Adam and Eve disobeyed God they were naked and unashamed (see Genesis 2:25). God created them as sexual beings. Their sex organs and sexual activity were holy. When they sinned, however, they were ashamed to be naked and they had to cover up (see Genesis 3:7). Many people mask the inner self for fear that others may find out what is really going on inside. When dominated by guilt and shame, self-disclosure is not likely to happen.

Humankind also became depressed and angry after the Fall. Cain brought his offering to God and, for some reason, God was displeased with it. "So Cain was very angry, and his face was downcast. Then the Lord said to Cain, 'Why are you angry? Why is your face downcast? If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must master it'" (Genesis 4:5-7, NIV).

Why was Cain angry and depressed? Because he didn't do what was right. In other words, God is saying, "You don't feel your way into good behavior; you behave your way into good feelings." Jesus said, "If you know these things, you are blessed if you do them" (John 13:17).

While researching and writing the book Finding Hope Again, I discovered we are also experiencing a blues epidemic in this age of anxiety. Depression is so prevalent it is called the "common cold" of mental illness. Visits to the doctor that resulted in a diagnosis of depression almost doubled from 1985 to 1995 in the United States, and overall there was a tenfold increase in the twentieth century.

Too Many Choices

Adam and Eve's sin also affected their will to choose. Do you realize that in the Garden of Eden they could make only one wrong choice? Everything they wanted to do was okay except eating from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil (see Genesis 2:16, 17). They had the possibility of making myriad good choices and only one bad choice—only one!

Eventually, however, they made that one bad choice. As a result, you and I are confronted every day with myriad good and bad choices. Apart from the Holy Spirit in your life, the greatest power you possess is the power to choose. You can choose to pray or not pray, read your Bible or not read your Bible, go to church or not go to church. You can choose to walk according to the flesh or according to the Spirit.

Attributes Become Needs

Another long-term effect of sin is that humankind's attributes before the Fall became glaring needs after the Fall. This sad transition occurs in three areas. Each of these three needs is continuous in our lives.

1. Acceptance was replaced by rejection; therefore we have a need to belong. Even before the Fall, Adam had a need to belong. His need to belong to God was filled in the intimacy of his fellowship with God in the garden. Of all the things that were good in the garden, the only thing that was "not good" was that Adam was alone (see Genesis 2:18). God filled that need by creating Eve.

Ever since Adam and Eve's sin alienated them from God and introduced strife into human relationships, we have experienced a deep need to belong. Even when people come to Christ and fill their need to belong to God, they still need to belong to the community of God's people.

If your church doesn't provide opportunities for legitimate Christian fellowship for its members, they will seek it someplace else. Those who study church-growth trends have discovered that a church can give people Christ, but if it doesn't also give them friends, after a few months the church will lose them. The spiritual union of Christian fellowship—called koinonia in the New Testament—is not just a nice thing the church ought to provide; it is a necessary thing the church must provide.

You will never understand the power of peer pressure in our culture until you understand the legitimate need to belong and the fear of rejection we all share.

2. Innocence was replaced by guilt and shame; therefore the need for a legitimate sense of worth has to be restored. Those who work with people recognize that a suffering humankind struggles with a poor sense of worth. An identity crisis and a negative self-image have been human problems since the Fall. The secular advice of stroking one another's ego and picking ourselves up by our own bootstraps is not a sufficient answer. Our sense of worth is not a question of giftedness, talent, intelligence or beauty. Your sense of personal worth comes from knowing who you are as a child of God and your growth in character. We will talk more about the dimensions of our identity in Christ and how it contributes to our sense of worth in the chapters ahead.

3. Dominion was replaced by weakness and helplessness; therefore we have a need for strength and self-control. People attempt to meet this need by learning to discipline themselves or by seeking to control and manipulate others. Nobody is more insecure or sick than controllers. They wrongly believe they can establish themselves by trying to control and manipulate other people or circumstances in life. In other words, they are trying to play God. The fruit of the Spirit is not spouse control or staff control or environmental control; it is self-control (see Galatians 5:23).

On the other hand, extreme efforts at self-discipline without the grace of God often lead to legalism or perfectionism and result in self-destruction. The world would have us think we are the masters of our fates and the captains of our souls, but we really aren't. The human soul was not designed to function as a master. We cannot serve God and wealth, but we will serve one or the other (see Matthew 6:24), being deceived into thinking we are serving ourselves.

Every temptation is an attempt by the devil to get us to live our lives independently of God. Satan tempts us just as he did Jesus by appealing to our most basic and legitimate needs. The question is: Are these needs going to be met by the world, the flesh and the devil, or are they going to be met by God who promises to meet all our needs "according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus" (Phil. 4:19)? The most critical needs are the being needs and they are the ones most wonderfully met in Christ.

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

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


God bless you all!


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

at, You can also find it on Apple podcasts ( The mt4christ247 podcast is also available on Google Podcasts, Amazon Podcasts, and 

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


Encouragement for the Path of Christian Discipleship

Thursday, May 13, 2021

The Kingdom: Celebrate Freedom Discipleship Course Lesson 1

 The Kingdom: Celebrate Freedom Discipleship Course Lesson 1 Podcast of Lesson 1 - The Kingdom with M.T. Clark and James Morgan

In 2020, I completed my master’s program of study with a thesis that posited the position that Recovery Programs such as AA and Celebrate Recovery could and should be integrated with additional Christian discipleship teachings to foster a better understanding of some core Christian doctrines and the encourage a Christian Disciple’s lifestyle to drive and maintain successful recovery. 

Instead of ripping down the 12 Steps of AA or the 8 Principles of Celebrate Recovery, I developed 7 lessons to integrate into those programs to try to facilitate a decidedly more Christian pathway on the Road to Recovery.   The seven lessons I developed can be integrated into either recovery program or they could be taught separately as their own discipleship program or Bible study.  I call my 7 lesson’s the “Celebrate Freedom Discipleship Course”, (CFDC).   

I just received word that my local church is going to be closed for another week and I won’t be teaching my current series of discipleship classes until May 27th!  

I miss teaching and have decided that until my classes resume I am going to present a lesson from the Celebrate Freedom Discipleship Course (CFDC), here on the blog and on the mt4christ247 podcast today and next week.         

I’m posting tonight’s lesson, CFDC Lesson 1: The Kingdom, this morning and will record and podcast it later this evening.  

I am also going to post the integration schedule that I developed to show where the CFDC lessons would be taught within 12 Step or Celebrate Recovery Program.    

If you would like your own copy of tonight’s lesson, email me at  


CFDC Lesson 1: The Kingdom


Discipleship Principle 1 – Our worldview, relationship with God, and our lives must be defined by and lived within the context of the kingdom of God. 

Mark 1:14-15 (NKJV)
14 Now after John was put in prison, Jesus came to Galilee, preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God,
15 and saying, "The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the gospel."

Galatians 1:9 (NKJV)
9 As we have said before, so now I say again, if anyone preaches any other gospel to you than what you have received, let him be accursed.

The focus of “the gospel” of the latter 20th century and early 21st century has been the redemption of man. The salvation of man has become the pinnacle of focus with the emphasis on the forgiveness of man’s sin accomplished through the cross of Christ as the benefit of Christianity. Modern messages focus on salvation and forgiveness as the means to fulfilling man’s pursuit of happiness on earth and his ultimate happiness in heaven. Christ, the suffering servant relieves the guilt of sin and guarantees life after death so man can live the life he chooses.

Scripture however presents the gospel as God’s call to man to repentance and service to God’s kingdom. Christ brought the kingdom of God with His earthly ministry. It is here presently through His word, the church, and the Holy Spirit who lives in believers. It will be fully realized when Christ returns to rule and reign. So, the kingdom of God has come and is yet to come. The kingdom is both now and not yet.

What is the gospel of the kingdom of God and how can understanding it impact recovery?

The “good news” of the kingdom of God is that Jesus made a way for us to enter it!  Through faith in Christ we become members of the kingdom. In short, discovery of, entrance to, and participation in the kingdom of God is life itself. Becoming part of and serving the kingdom is life’s meaning and purpose. The gospel of kingdom of God, as the central theme of the Bible, establishes the context in which we will live out our lives on earth and discover our eternal destiny. 

For recovery, a revelation of the kingdom of God provides meaning and empowers you to repent of your sins and overcome any hurt, habit, or hang up. Revelation of the kingdom infuses life with purpose that establishes and maintains victorious living.  

KINGDOM DEFINED: The active, dynamic reign and rule of God over and through His “royal priests” (man) over His realm (creation). – Dr. Christopher Romano


Covenant – The Key to the Kingdom

Step 3: We made a decision to turn our lives and our wills over to the care of God. 


CR Principle 3: Consciously choose to commit all my life and will to Christ’s care and control. 


What just happened? By making the conscious choice “to commit all my life and will to Christ’s care and control”, with a verbal proclamation that specifically names Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, we enter a covenant with God. 

Galatians 3:17 (NKJV)
17 And this I say, that the law, which was four hundred and thirty years later, cannot annul the covenant that was confirmed before by God in Christ, that it should make the promise of no effect.


Our covenant with Christ reconciles our relationship with God that was broken by Adam’s sin. When we come into covenant with God through faith in Jesus Christ, we receive the promises of God.


Galatians 3:29 (NKJV)
29 And if you are Christ's, then you are Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise.


·       We are forgiven of sin.


Galatians 1:3-4 (NKJV)
3 Grace to you and peace from God the Father and our Lord Jesus Christ,
4 who gave Himself for our sins, that He might deliver us from this present evil age
, according to the will of our God and Father,


·       We are given eternal life.


John 3:16 (NKJV)
16 For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.


·       We become God’s children


Galatians 3:26 (NKJV)
26 For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus.


·       We are given the Holy Spirit.


Galatians 4:6 (NKJV)
6 And because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into your hearts, crying out, "Abba, Father!"


·       We are given power over sin.


Galatians 5:16 (NKJV)
16 I say then: Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh.


·       We become members of the kingdom of God – royal priests and co-heirs with Christ.


1 Peter 2:9-10 (NKJV)
9 But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light;
10 who once were not a people but are now the people of God, who had not obtained mercy but now have obtained mercy.


Galatians 4:7 (NKJV)
7 Therefore you are no longer a slave but a son, and if a son, then an heir of God through Christ.

Our covenant with God not only establishes what we receive, it declares whose we are, which in turn defines who we are and what we are to do.  Our covenant relationship gives us a new identity and purpose for life: to serve the kingdom. 

The specificity of Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior is essential as it is through Christ’s blood that covenant relationship with God is established.  To claim peace with God or to be an inheritor of the promises of God without a covenant through faith in Christ, is to make a false claim to the kingdom for it is through Christ alone that we are forgiven, blessed, and given entrance into the kingdom of God.


What do we need to know about the Kingdom of God for Recovery?

1.    The kingdom is real! - Most Christians do not have a revelation of the kingdom. So, we first have to “know”: There is One! There is a kingdom over and above all creation and Christ is the King. He brought the kingdom to earth and He will come again to rule and reign for all eternity. 

Matthew 28:18 (NKJV)
18 And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, "All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth.

John 18:36-37 (NKJV)

36 Jesus answered, "My kingdom is not of this world. If My kingdom were of this world, My servants would fight, so that I should not be delivered to the Jews; but now My kingdom is not from here."
37 Pilate therefore said to Him, "Are You a king then?" Jesus answered, "You say rightly that I am a king. For this cause I was born, and for this cause I have come into the world, that I should bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth hears My voice."

Matthew 6:10 (NKJV)
10 Your kingdom come. Your will be done On earth as it is in heaven.

God is in control and is working all things toward the culmination of His coming kingdom and for the good of those who love Him (Rom 8:28). We can be at peace knowing there is a higher meaning and purpose to life, and we are secure as kingdom members through our faith in Jesus.  

2.    The kingdom of God is the gospel. The “gospel of the kingdom of God” is what Jesus taught and commanded His followers to teach.

Matthew 4:23 (NKJV)
23 And Jesus went about all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing all kinds of sickness and all kinds of disease among the people.

Our goal in life is to enter the kingdom through faith in Jesus Christ. After we received the “good news”, part of our kingdom mission is to share it, praying that God will use us to bring others into the kingdom.

Luke 9:1-2 (NKJV)
1 Then He called His twelve disciples together and gave them power and authority over all demons, and to cure diseases.
2 He sent them to preach the kingdom of God and to heal the sick.

We may be saved from separation from God and delivered from our hurts, habits, and hang ups but we are saved to represent and work for the kingdom and to assist in delivering others to the kingdom where they can find life, healing, and purpose. 

Matthew 5:10 (NKJV)
10 Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness' sake, For theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

The point in sharing the “kingdom” is to express God’s sovereignty and majesty and the truth of His ultimate reality in addition to sharing His mercy and grace. The kingdom gospel is about more than just us and our personal sins, it is a gospel that encompasses all of creation, human history, and the coming divine government.

3.    Heaven is temporary. The kingdom of God culminates in a new heaven and a new earth. The gospel of the kingdom aligns with scripture to dispel the common myth of an ethereal realm of the afterlife as our final destination.

Revelation 11:15 (NKJV)
15 Then the seventh angel sounded: And there were loud voices in heaven, saying, "The kingdoms of this world have become the kingdoms of our Lord and of His Christ, and He shall reign forever and ever!"

Revelation 21:1 (NKJV)
1 Now I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away. Also, there was no more sea.

The kingdoms of the earth will pass away, but God’s kingdom is eternal. When we have a revelation of this, the things of God become more important than the things of this earth. When we have a revelation of the kingdom, we will endure to the end.

4.    As members of the kingdom of God, we are to use the King’s power to overcome our hurts, habits, and hang ups, to give glory to God, and to better represent the kingdom. Sanctification is kingdom work to be done on ourselves.

Romans 12:1 (NKJV)
1 I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service.

Galatians 2:20 (NKJV)
20 I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.

1 Peter 1:13-16 (NKJV)
13  Therefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and rest your hope fully upon the grace that is to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ;
14  as obedient children, not conforming yourselves to the former lusts, as in your ignorance;
15  but as He who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct,
16  because it is written, "Be holy, for I am holy."

Our recovery is a kingdom work as we are doing God’s will for our lives to repent and to be healed. Our choice to overcome our hurts, habits, and hang ups is to realize our purpose for a higher cause than our personal well-being. We are conforming ourselves to represent the kingdom through our transformed life and our testimony becomes evidence of the King’s power.

5.    The kingdom has an enemy who has enslaved us and seeks to destroy or disable us. He must be recognized, fought, and defeated for victory.

John 10:10 (NKJV)
10 The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.

Ephesians 6:12-13 (NKJV)
12 For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.
13 Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.

Matthew 6:13 (NKJV)
13 And do not lead us into temptation, But deliver us from the evil one. For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.

The kingdom of God recognizes there is a kingdom of darkness to be delivered from and continually fought until Christ returns and establishes His kingdom on earth fully. 

Beyond our own fleshly desires and patterns of behavior, the enemy has been leading us into temptation and encouraging our destruction. In Christ, we have the power to be victorious over the enemy in spiritual warfare.

6.    Assisting others to join and participate in the kingdom of God is your calling from God as your testimony can be used to help others overcome.

Mark 16:15 (NKJV)
15 And He said to them, "Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature.

Galatians 6:1-2 (NKJV)
1 Brethren, if a man is overtaken in any trespass, you who are spiritual restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness, considering yourself lest you also be tempted.
2 Bear one another's burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.

Our pain and struggles become a message of hope for others as we represent a transformed life that results from becoming a member of the kingdom of God through our faith in Jesus Christ. 

Galatians 1:23-24 (NKJV)
23 But they were hearing only, "He who formerly persecuted us now preaches the faith which he once tried to destroy."
24 And they glorified God in me.

Revelation 12:11 (NKJV)
11 And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, and they did not love their lives to the death.

What the enemy meant for evil, God has turned for good. Our stories were of darkness but now are of light, life, and hope.  

7.    The Kingdom is not for all

Luke 13:24-28 (NKJV)
24 "Strive to enter through the narrow gate, for many, I say to you, will seek to enter and will not be able.
25 When once the Master of the house has risen up and shut the door, and you begin to stand outside and knock at the door, saying, 'Lord, Lord, open for us,' and He will answer and say to you, 'I do not know you, where you are from,'
26 then you will begin to say, 'We ate and drank in Your presence, and You taught in our streets.'
27 But He will say, 'I tell you I do not know you, where you are from. Depart from Me, all you workers of iniquity.'
28 There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth, when you see Abraham and Isaac and Jacob and all the prophets in the kingdom of God, and yourselves thrust out. (Galatians 3:5-7)

All will not enter the kingdom of God as Christ describes entry to be through a narrow gate. The narrow gate is entered through faith in Jesus Christ (I am the door – Johnv10:9).  Without Christ, we are workers of iniquity (unforgiven) and unknown (unacceptable) to God.

John 14:6 (NKJV)
6 Jesus said to him, "I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.

Those who have rejected Christ have refused entry into God’s kingdom. Sobriety without Christ is a good work but leads to eternal separation for salvation is through faith in Christ alone. 

Knowing this we must love our enemies and forgive them for they don’t realize the seriousness of their situation.  We must be loving and patient for in a moment they could suddenly see the light and come to Christ. Our previous lives in darkness looked like we had no hope, so we of all Christians should know to keep those outside the faith in prayer and extend to them the hope of the gospel of the kingdom.  

Wrap Up

Having a Revelation of the existence and reality of the kingdom of God can be a key paradigm shift in our recovery and in our lives.  Continually discovering how our conscious choice to put our life and will in Christ’s care and control has brought us into God’s kingdom and made us rightful heirs to the promises of God can motivate our success and maintain our recovery as we experience the difference of a life filled with God-given hope and purpose.  Belonging to the kingdom, we know:

·       The kingdom is real, is here and is yet to come.

·       Christ is King.

·       This world is temporary, and the kingdom is eternal

·       The kingdom was Christ’s primary message and teaching that we should share.

·       Membership to the kingdom through faith in Jesus Christ gives us

o   Eternal life from which we can live fearlessly

o   Power to overcome and heal, to walk out of darkness into His light

o   Authority over the enemy and to recognize his role in our temptation

o   A present and eternal purpose to represent and usher others into the kingdom

Living in the context of the kingdom brings heaven to earth as we experience the peace that surpasses all understanding regardless of circumstances, knowing that our lives will continue into eternity and that God is presently with and for us and will never leave or forsake us. God has a plan for His creation that results in His followers living with Him in a new heaven and new earth.  When we understand the kingdom, we are given a purpose and the power to overcome and endure persecution.

Review and Examine.

1.    How can a revelation of the kingdom of God help in your recovery?

2.    What are the implications for those in recovery who have not named Christ as Lord and Savior regarding the kingdom of God and their ability to prevent relapse?

3.    What promises does one inherit as a member of the kingdom of God?

4.    How is the gospel of the kingdom of God different from other gospels taught in most modern American churches?

5.    Are there any inherent responsibilities as a member of the kingdom of God?  If so, what are they? If not, explain your answer.

6.    How does the knowledge of the kingdom of darkness and the enemy impact your recovery?

7.    How does the knowledge of the kingdom of God affect the purpose for your life?


Recommended Resources:

The Gospel of the Kingdom by George Eldon Ladd 

Rediscovering the Kingdom by Myles Munroe

SYS 208 Kingdom Dynamics by Dr. Christopher Romano




CFDC Teaching Schedule


AA Twelve Steps

Celebrate Recovery Lessons

Step 1

1 – Denial

2- Powerless


Step 2

3 – Hope

4 – Sanity

Step 3

5 – Turn

6 – Action

CFDC 1: The KiCFDC 1: The Kingdom


Step 4

7 – Sponsor

8 – Moral

9 - Inventory

10 - Spiritual Inventory Part 1

11 - Spiritual Inventory Part 2

Step 5

12 – Confess

13- Admit

CFDCCFDC 2: Identity

 2: Identity

Step 6

14 – Ready

CFDC CFDC 3: The Enemy

3: The Enemy

Step 7

15 - Victory

CFDC 4: CFDC 4: The Holy Spirit

The Holy Spirit

Step 8

16 – Amends

17 - Forgiveness

Step 9

18 – Grace

Step 10

19 – Crossroads

20 – Daily Inventory

CFDC 5: AscCFDC 5: Ascension


Step 11

21 – Relapse

22 - Gratitude

CFDC 6: Worship 

CFDC 6: Worship

Step 12

23 – Give

24 – Yes

25 – 7 Reasons We Get Stuck

CFDC 7: Mi                            CFDC 7: Mission