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Showing posts with label 2 Corinthians. Show all posts

Saturday, October 29, 2022

Harmless Halloween Fun? Paranormal and Persecution Ponderings - Purity 875

 

Harmless Halloween Fun? Paranormal and Persecution Ponderings - Purity 875

Purity 875 10/29/2022 Purity 875 Podcast

Good morning,

Today’s photo of a multicolored October Sky comes to us from Rocco Saya the man behind  Celestial Blue Photography, (https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100069048257152), who shared this scene from Oswego NY back on October 23rd reporting that he hadn’t picked up his camera in two weeks due to his “massive preparations for Halloween” but that he took a break for the sunset and was rewarded with a “perfect way to end the day in fall.”

Rocco truly has pulled out all the stops in decorating his home for Halloween and if you are in Oswego area in the evening hours you can stop by 157 E 9th Street to see it for the next week, but he suggests stopping by on Halloween night because he will be synchronizing music with the light show as his way of saying: Happy Halloween.  If you aren’t near the shores of Lake Ontario and want to see a preview of what Rocco has done there is a link (https://fb.watch/gsErl-8ksW/) to a post on the Celestial Blue Photography page on the blog today that provides a video of Mr. Saya’s Halloween Decorating Triumph.

Well it is Saturday of Halloween weekend, and it is my prayer that we all have a good and SAFE weekend, I know that Halloween is not until Monday but I am sure that won’t stop many a Halloween custom party from happening between now and then and I know from my past, that mischievous youth may take to the streets tonight or tomorrow to wreak havoc in their communities with acts of destruction or vandalism.  I also know that the bars will be profiting off of and encouraging its patrons to lose their inhibitions and to drink deep and to make some wicked connections with the safety of masked anonymity.

As much as Halloween can be considered to be just “harmless” fun for our youth with costumes and trick or treating, this celebration of all things spooky really is revealed as a dark holiday by its rebellious, destructive, and licentious spirit that condones mischievous pranks, tricks, fantasy, and overindulgences in the sins of the flesh.

But beyond these evidences that can easily be seen there are the spiritual forces of darkness that are unseen but remain very real that delight in our society turning toward the darkness in the name of fun and which actively seek to steal, kill, and destroy.

As my attempt to share the truth that the Bible declares about the “paranormal” aspects of life, I am sharing an excerpt from Freedom in Christ’s Ministries blog from this week called: Halloween: The Paranormal (https://blog.ficm.org/blog/halloween-the-paranormal).   FICM USA’s board member Dr. Jonathan Carol continues his second installment regarding Halloween by writing:

So what is the paranormal? Should I be scared? Is it real, or is it all fake and pretend?

Some paranormal “occurrences” are nothing but fraudulent hoaxes. Yet some paranormal activities are very real and spiritually significant.

1 John 4:1 “Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God” (ESV)

Are ghosts real? Can my dead relatives come back to talk to me? What about familiar spirits and spirit guides? Can a place be haunted? Is it wrong to talk to or hunt ghosts? Is it wrong to go to haunted houses?

Any real “ghost” sightings or hauntings are actually disguised demons trying to gain your attention and affection. They either want you to 1) be afraid of their powers, 2) be self-confident in your abilities, or 3) be distracted from God by being absorbed into whatever experience they are presenting. Avoid the temptations of these experiences and flee from their evil.

2 Corinthians 11:14 “even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light”

What’s the one sure-fire thing I can do to survive paranormal attacks? (FYI: Don’t miss this!)

Real “paranormal” activities and beings are clearly demonic when they fail to accurately point to Jesus and His biblical truth, love, and righteousness. The only way to survive such paranormal attacks is by repenting of sin and being born again with saving faith in Jesus Christ.

Christians, if you ever come under paranormal/demonic attack, there is only one strategy for success. Don’t try to fight these spiritual battles in your own power, seek Jesus and His truth. Repent from sin. Walk in righteousness. Renew your mind with His truth (Romans 12:1-3) and “take every thought captive to obey Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:5).

James 4:7–8 “Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded.”

 

"Study Satan’s tricks, and acquaint yourself with his tactics." William Gurnall

What is evil? What is good? How can I know what is true and what is false? Which is the best book on this topic? Who is the best person to talk to on this topic?

There is a spiritual battle raging around us between the followers of Christ against the unseen spiritual forces of evil (Ephesians 6:12). Although many authors and books seek to describe this warfare, the best place to start and finish is in the Bible. If you are a Christian, the Bible is your weapon as a “sword of the Spirit” who is within you. Don’t go unarmed into battle, cite the Scripture with your lips and with your life.

Ephesians 6:16–17 “In all circumstances take up…the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God”

"Do not pretend you want to be led into truth if you will not bother to study the whole Word of God." William Gurnall

Is it ok to watch paranormal movies and TV shows? Read books and blogs? Is there any harm in Zombies? Pok√©mon? Cartoon witches? Avatars? Vampires? Werewolves? Should Christians “celebrate” Halloween?

Sometimes we face complicated decisions that are best left up to Christian conscious. We should study God’s Word, evaluate our motivations, consider the potential impact on our Christian obedience and witness, and prayerfully seek the Holy Spirit’s guidance.

If a Christian finds peace about participating in Halloween activities, they must use wisdom. Many faithful Christians have a clear conscience about participating in certain Halloween activities by taking with precautions about their destinations, costumes, and behaviors. Some believers see Halloween as a wonderful witnessing opportunity in which their neighbors and strangers will visit their homes or community outreach events (Galatians 5:13 and 1 Peter 2:16).

1 Corinthians 10:23–24 “All things are lawful,” but not all things are helpful. ‘All things are lawful,’ but not all things build up. Let no one seek his own good, but the good of his neighbor.”

What if I am just a “normal Christian”? Does this subject really affect me? Am I safe from all of this paranormal and demonic stuff? How can I prepare for future attacks (spiritual, mental, marriage, etc.)? How can I live with ongoing struggles and suffering? What if Satan doesn’t leave me alone?

The lessons of Halloween carry over throughout the year. Everyday we all face spiritual battles where “we do not wrestle with flesh and blood” (Ephesians 6:10-20). We must daily prepare as we go into spiritual battle. As we mature in our faith, our perspective and passions may change or grow regarding the details of Halloween. May we seek to use our Christian freedom in ways that honor Jesus and share His light with a dark and dying world. May we live with joy in our salvation and move forward with bold courage against Satan and his demons!

Luke 10:17 “The seventy-two returned with joy, saying, ‘Lord, even the demons are subject to us in your name!’”

For more about spiritual warfare in the early church, summaries of some of Neil Anderson’s most important works, or  A Bible reading plan for 2023, Dr. Carl invites us to  www.spiritualwarfare.blog/free-books for some of his free e-books and writings on the various subjects regarding our faith and spiritual warfare.   

So tonight as I will be volunteering at the last installment of Operation Adopt a Soldier’s Harvest Festival and Haunted Hayride at Gaven Park in Wilton NY, probably as a bouncer for the “bouncy house”,  I will be sure to encourage everyone I encounter to be kind to one another and to be safe in their celebrations and if I get the chance I will remind them that the darkness, no matter how prominent it may seem around Halloween or in our culture, has been defeated in the person of Jesus Christ on the cross and I will tell them that they can participate in that victory by putting their faith in Him and by continually walking and talking with God.

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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:

2 Corinthians 4:9 (NLT2)
9  We are hunted down, but never abandoned by God. We get knocked down, but we are not destroyed.

Today’s Bible verse reminds us that our Christian faith may not always be a bed of roses and that we may be knocked down from time to time in our walk of faith but it assures us that no matter whether we are hunted down, we are not abandoned by God and even if we get knocked down, we are not destroyed.  

Hunted down? Yup, in the Bonhoeffer’s Discipleship Lesson I presented the other night, the German theologian warned of a time of coming persecution and while we in the relatively safe confines of the US may say we don’t see it, an article on Forbes (https://www.forbes.com/sites/ewelinaochab/2022/01/20/one-in-seven-christian-minorities-under-threat-in-2022/?sh=58e956a77d2d) states that:

“According to the research, the persecution of Christians has reached the highest levels since the World Watch List began nearly 30 years ago. “Across 76 countries, more than 360 million Christians suffer high levels of persecution and discrimination for their faith – an increase of 20 million since last year.” 312 million Christians live in the top 50 countries alone. One in every seven Christians live under at least high levels of persecution or discrimination for their faith.”  

“An increase of 20 million since last year”!  So although we in the US are mostly only socially ostracized and encouraged to remain silent in our faith by our Post Christian culture, other Christians in the world aren’t waiting for the persecution to come, it’s already here and it is apparently increasing at an alarming rate. And this is being reported by Forbes, not exactly some right wing reporting agency trying to disseminate Christian propaganda. So as we move forward, we need to really know who we are in Christ and know the truth of today’s verse.  

We may be hunted down someday because we are Christians. We may be knocked down because of our faith in Christ. But we will never be abandoned by God and we will never be destroyed. 

But that only applies to those in Christ: Jesus said in

Matthew 10:28-33 (NKJV)
28  And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. But rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell. 29  Are not two sparrows sold for a copper coin? And not one of them falls to the ground apart from your Father's will.
30  But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. 31  Do not fear therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows.


32  "Therefore whoever confesses Me before men, him I will also confess before My Father who is in heaven.
33  But whoever denies Me before men, him I will also deny before My Father who is in heaven.

So take courage and comfort if you have made Christ your Lord and Savior because in Him we are safe, we are never abandoned, and we are never destroyed.  

But don’t just rest in your safety, let those you know who aren’t Christians learn the truth: that they need Jesus, and encourage them to seek the safety, acceptance, security, and significance that is found in Christ alone.

 

 

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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 Sermon on the Mount

Matthew 5

On theExtraordinaryof Christian Life

The Enemy—the “Extraordinary”

“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, Love your enemies; bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who abuse and persecute you, so that you may be children of your Father in heaven; for he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the righteous and on the unrighteous. For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet only your brothers and sisters, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect” (Matt. 5:43–48).

This is the point in the Sermon on the Mount where we encounter for the first time the word which summarizes everything in it: love. Immediately it is put into the clear-cut context of love for our enemies. Loving one’s kindred is a commandment that could be misunderstood. Loving enemies makes unmistakably clear what Jesus intends.

“Enemy” was no empty concept for the disciples. They knew it well. They met enemies daily. There were those who cursed them as destroyers of the faith and lawbreakers; there were those who hated them because they had left everything for Jesus’ sake and did not highly value anything but communion with him; there were those who insulted and scorned them for their weakness and humility; there were those who persecuted them, who feared a growing revolutionary danger in the group of disciples and were intent on destroying them. One kind of enemy were the representatives of a people’s piety, who could not tolerate Jesus’ claim to exclusive and complete loyalty. They were armed with power and respect. Another enemy, which would be apparent to every Jew, was the political enemy in Rome. The Jews experienced powerful oppression from that enemy.[133] In addition to these two inimical groups, there was all the personal enmity which anyone encounters who does not participate in the norms of the majority: daily defamation, humiliation, and threats.

To be sure, nowhere in the Old Testament is there a statement which commands us to hate our enemies. On the contrary, we find the commandment to love our enemies (Exod. 23:4f.; Prov. 25:21f.; Gen. 45:1ff.; 1 Sam. 24:7; 2 Kings 6:22; and elsewhere). But Jesus is speaking here, not of natural enmity, but of the enmity of God’s people against the world. Israel’s wars were the only “holy” wars[135] the world has ever known. They were God’s wars against the world of idols. Jesus does not condemn that enmity, otherwise he would have to condemn God’s entire history with God’s own people. Instead, Jesus affirms the Old Covenant. His only concern is to overcome enemies, to achieve victory for God’s community. But in this command, once again he released his community of disciples from the political form of the people of Israel. As a result, there will be no more wars of faith. God promised that we would gain victory over our enemies precisely by loving them.

Loving one’s enemies is not only an unbearable offense to the natural person. It demands more than the strength a natural person can muster, and it offends the natural concept of good and evil. But even more important, loving one’s enemies appears to people living according to the law to be a sin against God’s law itself. Separation from enemies and condemning them is what the law demands. But Jesus takes God’s law into his hands and interprets it. To overcome enemies by loving them—that is God’s will which is contained in the law.[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] Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Discipleship, ed. Martin Kuske et al., trans. Barbara Green and Reinhard Krauss, vol. 4, Dietrich Bonhoeffer Works (Minneapolis, MN: Fortress Press, 2003), 137–139.


Monday, August 8, 2022

Free to Leave - Purity 804


Free to Leave - Purity 804

Purity 804 08/08/2022 Purity 804 Podcast

Good morning,

Today’s photo of the public beach at Schroon Lake comes to us from yours truly as I spontaneously found myself further north than I would have ever dreamed Saturday and decided to make the most of it.  

Shortly after reporting Saturday that I didn’t have any “have to’s” to take care of on Saturday, I received word  that the Word of Life Inn & Conference Center in Schroon Lake was sold and the organization were giving away furniture and “other things” away to the public. Imagining Christian resources, books!, wall hangings, and usable furniture for the taking, my curiosity, and the lack of any other plans got the best of me and launched me into action and on a spontaneous journey an hour north of my already northern countryside home.

There was quite a bit of traffic going into and coming out of the Lodge by the time I got there so the pickings were slim but in the spirit of the frenzy I was influenced to “grab something” and ended up grabbing a blue armchair that I will imagined I could use in my bedroom to read, relax or watch t.v. in. 

I tested it out yesterday afternoon and although it takes up more space that I would like, it will meet it’s imagined purpose and it could give my wife a place to sit in my room other than my bed, as I only had a single office chair in the room before.   

Although I got the chair, I was disappointed because there was nothing else like I imagined. The only books they were giving away were Bibles that had been in each room in the inn, and I have plenty of Bibles already.  Yeah my imagination of Christian resources was a false expectation as I discovered that the Lodge was more a less a hotel and the offerings would be what you would expect from any hotel giving away its old furniture: beds, night stands, lamps, arm chairs, low height dressers, but I didn’t know that when I left at a moments notice and went barreling up I-87 to get there.  

So now that I realized that I was at Schroon Lake with nothing else to do, I decided to make the most of my hour and fifteen minute long drive and googled public swimming. I carry a bag in my car with a towel, swim trunks, and other clothes to be prepared for spontaneous fun or unexpected trips or overnight stays so I was ready for some spontaneous swimming fun and discover the public beach would be opening at 11 and was only a short drive a way. 

So I got there at about a quarter of 10 and figured I would read or something until the beach officially opened but shortly after I parked I saw other people setting up their beach chairs and then go into the water! So even though there were no lifeguards and the beach wasn’t officially opened, I headed down the grassy embankment that encloses the small beach and set up shop on the grassy plateau that over looks the beach. I’m not crazy about sand and my elevated position on the grassy plateau gave me a little privacy and distance from the beach below and gave me a nice view of the whole scene. After I set up my camp chair that I also keep in my car at all times for spontaneous fun,  I was soon loving my decision to make the most out of my impromptu trip as I immediately “broke the rules” and was enjoying the cool but not cold waters of Schroon Lake.  I had never been there before and I would definitely recommend it to my friends, but I would encourage you to follow my example and go early because the beach is small and it filled up pretty quickly aftre 11 AM.  

I would also recommend being careful if you decide to follow my example and decide to stay on the grassy hill that surrounds the beach.  There is a reason why not many people joined me on the perfectly level grassy plateau. 

After my maiden swim and an hour of reading and enjoying the sun, I got thirsty so I made the trek back up to my car to get some water I had left behind.  There was a sun bather nearby so I decided to take a different route up the hill and was shocked to discover what appeared to be cat or small dog poop all over the grassy hill side! I was disgusted and wondered what kind of people would be so thoughtless to let their pets relieve themselves in a public park to such an extent that the grassy hillside was a veritable mine field of poop!

So although I did go back to my spot and went swimming a few more times and stayed another hour, the growing crowd, suddenly appearing flying insects, and the fact that I now knew that the entire hill was covered in animal feces all combined to cause me to leave.  

After telling my wife of my misadventures at Schroon Lake, she shared her knowledge of living up north and shared that what I took for pet droppings left by irresponsible owners or strays, was in actuality goose poop! Apparently, unlike most birds that I am familiar with, geese poop is much larger.  

Anyway,  I guess I share all of that to encourage my friends to be spontaneous in life, to make the most of your opportunities to experience something new, but to also be aware of their surroundings!  Apparently there is always something new to learn and sometimes the lessons we get aren’t always pleasant!

And another thing that I would point out from my experience is that we can have good experiences in less than ideal circumstances, but when we discover the unpleasant truth about the place we are in, it doesn’t mean we necessarily have to stay there!  

As the circumstances surrounding my “beach day”, started to go south, I had a decision to make, I could “get over myself” and stay and decide to just “focus on the good” or I could leave! And I did leave!

For me maintaining the peace and joy of my life wasn’t “beach centered”, it’s God centered and the great thing about God is that He goes where I go. The beach had given what I needed to experience and I decided to go when the going was good.  

As someone who encourages others to experience their freedom in Christ, one of the lesson I teach is that we are free to leave negative circumstances, places, and people behind as we follow the Lord.    When we decide to follow Christ, not everyone will be walking with us and the Lord may call us to “go” rather than to endure.  

Yes, a good deal of living as a disciple of Christ involves being good, kind, faithful, gentle, and patient as we endure through bad situations and deal with difficult people but make no mistake, who the Son set free is free indeed and as we walk with Him we will discover that the Lord calls us to leave situations, people, and places behind to answer another call or to maintain our life in the Spirit.  

From the beginning, Abraham was called to leave His family and all he knew to follow the Lord,  Moses lead the nation Israel our of Egypt, and Christ told his disciples to shake of the dust of a town that did not receive His word.   So listen to what the Holy Spirit is calling you to do, but it’s “time to go”, go.   

So as we enter into a new work week, fight the good fight of faith and try to live peacefully where the Lord has brought you as you answer His call on your life to be the best “worker, parent, manager or whatever” that the Lord made you to be.  

But if you discover that the circumstances have gotten to be untenable, remember that the Lord has also given you the freedom to leave.  And if we decide to leave, we necessarily have to scream from the roof tops just how unpleasant things were on the way out the door.  

As much as I may have been tempted to scream “Hey, that hill is covered in poop!”

I didn’t because:

I didn’t want to point out the negative

I didn’t want to take away someone else’s joy

And just like when we share the gospel, often people don’t hear or understand what we say, or don’t listen to us anyway, and somethings we have to experience for ourselves.  

So keep walking and talking with God, and keep pursuing the meaning and purpose He has for your life, that may call you to stay or may call you to exercise your freedom to go.

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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:

2 Corinthians 5:17 (NLT2)
17  This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!

Today’s verse testifies to the spiritual reality of a brand new life that comes to all who put their faith in Jesus Christ.  

The biggest stumbling block to experiencing our new life in Christ is our failure to pursue the life we have been given.   Instead of being transformed by the renewing our minds with the word of God as the Bible directs us, we continue to stay where we are and do the things we have always done. 

If you are perplexed about why you don’t “feel like a new creation”, it is probably because you have misunderstood the gospel that tells us that there is “nothing to do” but put your faith in Christ to be a child of God and decided that there was “nothing to do” with your new life in Christ and thus have remained doing what you have always done.  

When we are saved, we are saved from God’s wrath.  

But what are we saved “to”?  We are made children of God to represent His kingdom and to give Him glory.  

What exactly in your life before Christ was doing that?  Probably not much.   

So if you saw the need for a Savior for your salvation, why would you assume that the way you were living before you came to Christ was “just fine”?

The call from Christ is the call to everlasting life but it is also the call to repentance.  We are made new the moment we make Christ our Lord but that doesn’t mean that nothing needs to change.  A Christian life is a transformed life.  

So if you don’t feel like you have been transformed, you need to believe that you are and make the transformation a reality in your life by changing the way you think and live to be in line with God’s word.  

So rejoice over your new life in Christ, and seek His wisdom and ways to see it manifest more and more as you make the daily decision to follow Him. 

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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 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.

Spiritual Warfare As Resistance

Four times in the passage Paul used the word stand/withstand (same root in the Greek: Eph 6:11, 13, 14). In the larger context of Ephesians it is clear Paul did not want believers to “give a place to the devil” with excessive anger, lying, stealing or succumbing to any other temptation to moral impurity (Eph 4:27). Paul described the devil and his powers as working in concert with the flesh and the world (Eph 2:2–3—see above) to promote sin among Christians and hinder the progress of the gospel. For this reason the Christian needs to appropriate God’s enabling power in order to live with moral integrity.

Spiritual warfare is therefore resistance. It is a defensive posture. It involves recognizing the supernatural nature of temptation and being prepared to face it. It also implies appropriating God’s power to progress in eradicating moral vices that already have a place in one’s life.

The first two spiritual weapons Paul named are “truth” and “righteousness.” There appears to be two sides to these weapons. On the one hand, they need to be understood as divine endowments for the task of spiritual warfare. On the other hand, they are to be regarded as virtues that need to be cultivated in the lives of believers. This understanding is quite natural in that the gospel brings with it implications for Christian conduct. Paul saw the gospel as “truth” (Eph 1:13) and as the power of God for salvation (Rom 1:16). In contrast, the devil is the archadversary who uses many schemes designed to misrepresent, deceive and trick. Believers need to be convinced and assured of the gospel’s truth and what it affirms about them as God’s children. By implication, believers need to conduct their lives in a manner consistent with the truth of the gospel. Lying and deceit can have no place in a believer’s life; they are an affront to the God of truth. Consequently, in Ephesians, Paul told each Christian that he or she “must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to his neighbor” (Eph 4:25; see also 5:9).

One of the most remarkable parts of the salvation that God provides is the gift of “righteousness.” After informing the Romans that “there is no one righteous, not even one” (Rom 3:10), Paul elaborated on the wonderful news that “this righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe” (Rom 3:22). This righteousness means that those who believe in Jesus have been acquitted of all guilt before God. They are completely forgiven and reconciled to him as friends, better yet, as sons and daughters. The devil and his malicious powers would certainly like Christians to believe otherwise. The powers strive to convince people that God could not possibly forgive them for some of the horrible things they have done in the past. Such a notion could not be further from the truth. Christians have indeed been pardoned through Christ’s blood, and as such, can live boldly and confidently, not with guilt, fear and timidity.

Possessing God’s righteousness, however, brings responsibility. The apostle admonished his readers to strip off the old self and put on the new self, which is “created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness” (Eph 4:24). The development of personal holiness and integrity is part of the preparation for engaging in victorious spiritual warfare. Conversely, a lack of integrity and personal holiness will certainly hinder a believer’s ability to resist the onslaught of Satan’s minions successfully.

Another very important aspect of a believer’s resistance is “salvation,” which is linked to the helmet as the fifth piece of armor (Eph 6:17). Salvation needs to be understood as Paul explained it in the larger context of the letter. In Ephesians 2:5–10, Paul twice reaffirmed to his readers that “by grace you have been saved,” eloquently describing the concept of salvation. These two occurrences are the only occasions in all of Paul’s letters where he used the Greek perfect tense to refer to salvation. The perfect tense stresses the results of a decisive action in the past Paul wanted his readers to be very secure in their identity in Christ. They are people who are saved and enjoy the benefits of being saved.

Paul clarified what he meant by salvation in that same context with three powerful thoughts: (1) believers have been made alive with Christ, (2) they have been raised up with Christ, and (3) they have been seated with him in the heavenly realms (Eph 2:4–6). For Paul it is vitally important that believers know who they are in Christ in order to resist the influence of Satan and his forces on their lives. Only through their salvation and union with Christ will they be able to resist

Finally, the believer is given a “sword” to fend off the attacks of the evil one. The sword is linked with the Spirit and the Word of God. Just as Jesus used Scripture to resist Satan’s temptations while he was in the wilderness (Mt 4:1–11), Paul called on believers to use God’s Word to resist the devil in their own situations. This is not to be understood as a semimagical use of Scripture, quoting it out loud as a means of thwarting the devil. It involves gaining a thorough familiarity with Scripture and an accurate understanding of its relevance for any given situation. When Jesus was tempted, the devil applied Scripture inappropriately and out of context; Jesus responded to the devil by applying Scripture appropriately and according to its proper intent in conveying the mind of God on specific matters. The thorough, systematic study of Scripture on a regular basis is vital for all believers. It is an integral part of engaging in effective spiritual warfare.[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), 154–156.

Friday, May 20, 2022

His Truth and Presence: The Way through Grief – Purity 736


His Truth and Presence: The Way through Grief – Purity 736

Purity 736 05/19/2022  Purity 736 Podcast

Good morning,

Today’s photo of a golden retriever apparently navigating his own boat in the setting sun comes to us from a brother and a friend who shared this photo among many others on social media yesterday to remember and honor his faithful canine companion who was called into eternity after suffering from cancer for last 12 months.  But in my friend’s post, he didn’t focus on the pain and suffering but instead gave a heartwarming testimony of the adventures in life that he and his canine friend had through the years.   

Similarly, and not to equate or compare the two losses, I was saddened to see that a friend’s mother had also died yesterday after years of suffering from the devastating affects of Alzheimer’s disease.  I had a small idea of my friend’s pain from dealing with his mother’s condition and of course this was in midst of other losses as his wife’s mother passed away last year. 

Sometimes our cup of suffering seems to be full and the thing we dreaded the most, death, comes as a relief as our loved one’s pain is ended. My friend acknowledged the truth of the suffering his mother had gone through in the announcement of her passing but also focused on the love that she had given to her family as a mother and grandmother. Her love, presence, and support for her family was displayed throughout her life and this is what my friend is focusing on.    

So, obviously it is not going to necessarily be a banner weekend for a pair of my friends as the loss of their loved ones is fresh but that is okay, the best way to process the grief of losing a loved one is to acknowledge the pain of the loss, remember the great value of the relationship that has changed forever, and to say goodbye to the way things used to be.  

We all grieve in our own way and in our own timing, but the word of God indicates that we are to always give thanks, always pray, always rejoice, and keep moving forward into the upward call of Christ.   

In our grief, a relationship with God and a knowledge of the truth of reality as it is revealed to us in Scripture can give us peace and strength to endure any suffering and all loss.  

The Bible is straightforward in delivering the truth of life and death and in times of loss we are reminded of the extreme importance of faith in Jesus Christ and a biblically based world view of eternity.   The Lord wanted us to know the truth and He inspired the Apostle Paul to share it in

2 Corinthians 5:1-10 (NLT2) which says:
1  For we know that when this earthly tent we live in is taken down (that is, when we die and leave this earthly body), we will have a house in heaven, an eternal body made for us by God himself and not by human hands.
2  We grow weary in our present bodies, and we long to put on our heavenly bodies like new clothing.
3  For we will put on heavenly bodies; we will not be spirits without bodies.
4  While we live in these earthly bodies, we groan and sigh, but it’s not that we want to die and get rid of these bodies that clothe us. Rather, we want to put on our new bodies so that these dying bodies will be swallowed up by life.
5  God himself has prepared us for this, and as a guarantee he has given us his Holy Spirit.
6  So we are always confident, even though we know that as long as we live in these bodies we are not at home with the Lord.
7  For we live by believing and not by seeing.
8  Yes, we are fully confident, and we would rather be away from these earthly bodies, for then we will be at home with the Lord.
9  So whether we are here in this body or away from this body, our goal is to please him.
10  For we must all stand before Christ to be judged. We will each receive whatever we deserve for the good or evil we have done in this earthly body.

For the believer, our faith in Christ results in a state of grace. We are forgiven for all of our sins and are given the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit as a guarantee of our eternal life in God’s kingdom the moment we make Jesus our Lord and Savior.  The judgement the believer faces from Christ  is to determine their rewards for their faithfulness.  There is nothing to fear from death. To be absent with the body is to be present with the Lord.

This life on earth is not the end. Jesus said in:

John 11:25-26 (NKJV)
25   "I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live.
26  And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die. Do you believe this?"

Jesus speaks the truth of spiritual reality. You can believe this. And if you haven’t already, you should say a prayer to make Jesus your Lord and Savior and then endeavor to be His disciple and follow Him in how you live your life.

The strength of our faith comes from God. It comes from knowing Him and from knowing the truth that He reveals to us in His word, and from applying its wisdom to every situation of our lives, especially in times of pain and loss.   

So yeah, bad things will happen, suffering will come, and death will take the lives of our family, friends, and pets.  But God is on the other side of this life and if there is one thing you can be sure of, it is this: God will do what is right.

I don’t know if “all dogs go to heaven” but I know that God will do what is right.  

As for men, God’s justice is served by Jesus’ death on the cross. Jesus is the Truth, the Way and the Life. And He said that no one comes to the Father except through Him.  This is the truth and God will do what’s right based on this. We all need the assurance of a good ending and the Lord offers it freely to all who put their faith in His Son.

No matter what losses we face in life, we can be assured God is good because He sent Jesus to tell us the truth and to rescue us from sin and death. Death loses its sting through Jesus Christ alone.

So thank God it is Friday.  And thank God for all the love we have known in our lives, whether it is active and current or came from those who are no longer with us, we can rejoice even in our pain, knowing that we gave and received love from our dearly departed loved ones.  

So no matter what you are facing as we go into this weekend, draw close to the Lord and He will draw close to you. He will tell you the truth and give you strength and comfort when you walk with Him.  He will never leave you or forsake you and He be there when your body gives out and He calls you home.  

______________________________________________________________

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

This morning’s meditation verse is:

Proverbs 2:9 (NLT2)
9  Then you will understand what is right, just, and fair, and you will find the right way to go.

Today’s Bible verse reminds us of the results of seeking God’s wisdom: that we will have understanding of what is right, just, and fair and we will find the right way to go.   

In any sincere search for the truth about the meaning of life, the Bible and the person of Jesus Christ must be considered.  To say we care about truth, wisdom, and what happens to us when we die and to dismiss or ignore the Bible and Jesus is not only foolish but should reveal that fact that we are willfully choosing to reject the truth that has changed the course of human history.

Look at the calendar and tell me year it is and tell me why it is that year.  And don’t tell me about C.E. Common Era.  That’s a modern invention to deny, the truth of who Christ is.  AD is an abbreviation of the Latin: anno domini, literally the 'year of the Lord' and it just so happens to coincide with the advent of Jesus Christ into the world.

When you tell me the year is 2022, you unwittingly give glory to Jesus Christ.

So if you are curious about the Man, whose life was so significant that we number our days based on Him, or if you were to consider the vast multitudes who would point you to the word of God to find wisdom, you would read the Bible.  

The Bible tells the story of God and His plan for mankind: which is Jesus Christ.  It also reveals what is right morally according to the Lord.   

So as today’s verse indicates when we seek the Lord’s wisdom, that is revealed to us in Scripture, we will understand what is right, just, and fair.  And we will also find the right way to go. The last parts of the Bible, the New Testament, reveals Jesus as the Way.   Putting our faith in Him and living according to God’s wisdom is the way to go.  

So seek the Truth and you will find it.  Your investigation for truth may not begin with God but as you see the common revelation of creation that testifies of the existence of a Creator and consider the historical evidence that points to the significance of the Bible as a source of wisdom, you investigation for truth will lead you to the author of all Truth and maker of all things: God. And His word, the Holy Bible, will show you what is just, right and fair and will show the right way to go.  

 

 

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

Today we continue sharing from John Piper’s “Don’t Waste Your Life”.  

As always, I share this information for educational purposes and encourage all to purchase John Pipers’ books for your own private study and to support his work.  This resource is available on many websites for less than $5.00.

Consumed with Clothes

Or think about clothes. What a tragedy to see so many young people obsessed with what they wear and how they look. Even Christian youth seem powerless to ask greater questions than “What’s wrong with it?” Like: Will these clothes help me magnify Christ? Will they point people to him as the manifest Treasure of my life? Will they highlight my personhood, created in the image of God to serve, or will they highlight my sexuality? Or my laziness? Trust me, I’m not hung up on clothes. There are some pretty radical, Christ-exalting reasons to dress down. My plea is that you be more like a dolphin and less like a jellyfish in the sea of fashion—and of contra-fashion (which is just as tyrannizing).

Go beyond one teenager who wrote to the Minneapolis Star Tribune in response to a letter to the editor:

As a teenager, what you wear is unfortunately becoming more important. Honestly even I find some of the clothes that I wear offensive. The letter spoke of girls being able to dress fashionably and sensibly. Show me how that’s possible, and I’ll do it.

Most of my friends often are not comfortable with what is popular, but we wear it anyway. Standing out is just not always worth the struggle. Society tells us to be different, yet mainstream.

How do you dress to please yourself, your parents and your peers? You can’t. Teens end up compromising their values to fit in. If we intend to make it through high school, or even junior high, without being tormented then we must dress to please our peers.

We are the up-and-coming leaders of this nation, and we must see what we have become and change.

Where Are the Young Radicals for Christ?

When I stand, as it were, on the shores of Iwo Jima and let myself reenact those hours of courage and sacrifice, and remember that they were young, I cannot make peace with the petty preoccupations of most American life. One of them was really young. I read his story and wanted to speak to every youth group in America and say, Do you want to see what cool is? Do you want to see something a thousand times more impressive than a triple double? Well, listen up about Jacklyn Lucas.

He’d fast-talked his way into the Marines at fourteen, fooling the recruits with his muscled physique.… Assigned to drive a truck in Hawaii, he had grown frustrated; he wanted to fight. He stowed away on a transport out of Honolulu, surviving on food passed along to him by sympathetic leathernecks on board.

He landed on D-Day [at Iwo Jima] without a rifle. He grabbed one lying on the beach and fought his way inland.

Now, on D+1, Jack and three comrades were crawling through a trench when eight Japanese sprang in front of them. Jack shot one of them through the head. Then his rifle jammed. As he struggled with it a grenade landed at his feet. He yelled a warning to the others and rammed the grenade into the soft ash. Immediately, another rolled in. Jack Lucas, seventeen, fell on both grenades. “Luke, you’re gonna die,” he remembered thinking.…

Aboard the hospital ship Samaritan the doctors could scarcely believe it. “Maybe he was too damned young and too damned tough to die,” one said. He endured twenty-one reconstructive operations and became the nation’s youngest Medal of Honor winner—and the only high school freshman to receive it.

As I read that, I thought of all the things that high school kids think is cool. I sat on the porch where I was reading and thought, O God, who will get in their face and give them something to live for? They waste their days in a trance of insignificance, trying to look cool or talk cool or walk cool. They don’t have a clue what cool is.

One more story to clarify what is cool. It’s about Ray Dollins, a fighter pilot at Iwo Jima.

The first wave of amtracs headed for shore. The Marine fighter planes were finishing up their low strafing runs. And as the last pilot began to pull his Corsair aloft, Japanese sprang to their guns and riddled the plane with flak. The pilot, Major Ray Dollins, tried to gain altitude as he headed out over the ocean so as to avoid a deadly crash into the Marines headed for the beach, but his plane was too badly damaged. Lieutenant Keith Wells watched it from the amtrac.… “We could see him in the cockpit,” Wells said, “and he was trying everything. He was heading straight down for a group of approaching ’tracs filled with Marines. At the last second he flipped the plane over on its back and aimed it into the water between two waves of tanks. We watched the water exploding into the air.”

Military personnel listening to the flight radio network from the ships could not only see Dollins go down; they could hear his last words into his microphone. They were a defiant parody.

Oh, what a beautiful morning,

Oh, what a beautiful day,

I’ve got a terrible feeling

Everything’s coming my way.

Of course, we do not use the word cool to describe true greatness. It is a small word. That’s the point. It’s cheap. And it’s what millions of young people live for. Who confronts them with urgency and tears? Who pleads with them not to waste their lives? Who takes them by the collar, so to speak, and loves them enough to show them a life so radical and so real and so costly and Christ-saturated that they feel the emptiness and triviality of their CD collection and their pointless conversations about passing celebrities? Who will waken what lies latent in their souls, untapped—a longing not to waste their lives?

My Heart’s Plea

Oh, that young and old would turn off the television, take a long walk, and dream about feats of courage for a cause ten thousand times more important than American democracy—as precious as that is. If we would dream and if we would pray, would not God answer? Would he withhold from us a life of joyful love and mercy and sacrifice that magnifies Christ and makes people glad in God? I plead with you, as I pray for myself, set your face like flint to join Jesus on the Calvary road. “Let us go to him outside the camp and bear the reproach he endured. For here we have no lasting city, but we seek the city that is to come” (Hebrews 13:13–14). When they see our sacrificial love—radiant with joy—will they not say, “Christ is great”?[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] John Piper, Don’t Waste Your Life (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books, 2003), 125–131.