Labels

Showing posts with label Change. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Change. Show all posts

Wednesday, August 10, 2022

The “R” Word and Living in the State of Grace- Purity 806

The “R” Word and Living in the State of Grace- Purity 806

Purity 806 08/10/2022  Purity 806 Podcast

Good morning,

Today’s photo a clear blue sky and blazing sun over the “hump of a tree” and the “peak” of my neighbor’s house comes to us today from yours truly as I captured this spontaneous shot back on July 9th when leaving my countryside home to walk the dog. 

Well, it’s Wednesday again and today’s pictural offering may be lacking the mountain’s majesty that I usually share to represent the midweek hump but I think it can serve as a simple reminder to see the beauty that is right outside your front door and to appreciate the simple things in life. 

Also, I had some technical difficulties in this photo being delivered to my laptop and while I was waiting I was a little bit overwhelmed by the lag and the fact that I had other photo’s I could share but had no idea of their origin as I will just grab lots of photos off of social media to possibly use and with time, I forget where they came from! I have confessed that weakness before and unfortunately I haven’t instituted any measures to change it!

And thus we have stumbled upon today’s topic I guess: breaking the sin-confess cycle.  

Have you ever heard some one say, perhaps to you: “You say you are sorry, but if you were really sorry, you wouldn’t do that anymore!”  

Duck! Because if you are anything like me, those are shots fired in your direction and those slugs hurt!

If anyone ever tells you that the Christian faith is simple, they are failing to tell you about  the “R” word: repentance.  Just so you can see I am not legalistically making the need to change up out of thin air, I share the following verses from the New Testament:

From the Apostle Peter:

Acts 3:19 (NKJV)
19  Repent therefore and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, so that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord,

2 Peter 3:9 (NKJV)
9  The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.

From the Apostle Paul,

Acts 17:30 (NKJV)
30  Truly, these times of ignorance God overlooked, but now commands all men everywhere to repent,

From Jesus:

Matthew 4:17 (NKJV)
17  … Jesus began to preach and to say, "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand."

Mark 1:15 (NKJV)
15  … "The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the gospel."

Luke 13:3 (NKJV)
3  I tell you, no; but unless you repent you will all likewise perish.

Revelation 3:19 (NKJV)
19  As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten. Therefore be zealous and repent.

Okay, I hope that is sufficient to demonstrate that “repentance” is a fundamental part of our faith.  Christians are called to believe in Christ, to put their faith in Him as Lord and Savior, and to repent: to change our minds and to decide to exchange our ways of thinking and living for God’s wisdom and ways. 

I’m pretty sure most of us know that and it is perhaps the number one reason why people resist becoming a Christian. Change is hard and they don’t want to change. 

Even those of us who do want to change, know what a difficult thing that can be.  And that’s we needed and will continually need God’s grace: His divine favor.  

God’s grace shined upon us of course when we first came to Christ. It was God’s grace that revealed to us the truth of the gospel of Jesus Christ and caused us to put our faith in Him.  

But God’s grace, His divine favor, doesn’t leave us at salvation.  Some Christians refer to a “state of Grace”, and although the systems that usually use that particular phrase indicate that this “state” is something we can move in and out of based on our behavior, the word indicates that nothing can separate us from the love of God, so I would encourage you to know that grace is a state that you have taken up permanent residency in the moment you put your faith in Jesus Christ and nothing can change that.  

However, our attitudes and behaviors are subject to change. That’s good news and bad news. 

The bad news is that we can be walking well in our new found faith but then through temptation and deception, we can decide to forget who we are in Christ and make poor sinful choices.  We have formed selfish fleshly habits of living and they are difficult to change over night.   However, because of who we are in Christ, no matter what we do we are forgiven – when we came to Christ all our sins, past, present, and future sins, have been forgiven.

That’s grace and that’s why it is called “Amazing grace” because we simply can’t believe it is true!  And because we have been raised in a world system that has taught us that WE HAVE TO WORK to be approved, many will reject God’s grace because they believe it is too good to be true, but it is.  

Anyway, the good news about our attitudes and behaviors being subject to change is that we can change them! Thus repentance.  In fact, the best evidence for the truth of Christianity are people who have come to Christ and changed the way they lived.  

So, those new in Christ will try to “be good” now that they have “said the prayer” but unless they develop their love for God, repentance will just be a process of frustrating work that will be marked by failures and confessions.   We will say we are sorry but will feel powerless to change. 

So why is that? I’m trying hard here! What’s the deal!?! 

Well the deal is that you are trying to establish your freedom and victory over your besetting sins in your own strength according to the world’s ways rather than “turning” to God’s strength, wisdom, and ways. Also you are probably, subtly separating yourself from God by feeling condemned and by trying to “do it yourself”.  

Our Christian faith is a relationship with God and that’s not how it’s supposed to be.  We have to love God, get to know God, and dedicate ourselves to our relationship with Him and know the peace that comes from living in the “state of grace”.   We have to know that even if we fail, God still loves us. 

That realization should be liberating. As His adopted children through faith in Jesus, God will never leave us or forsake us and will pour His grace upon us throughout our lives. His divine favor is ours and it can be the catalyst for change.   When we live in God’s grace, we live in the peace of knowing that we can do no wrong in God’s eyes. 

Now don’t get it twisted, just because we haceGod’s grace doesn’t mean that we won’t suffer from acting like a fool but it does mean that when we humble ourselves and decide to live according to God’s ways He will give us the power to overcome.  

Some people in your past may have said: “If you loved me, you would change.” But they were only human, may have had a selfish agenda, and certainly didn’t have the power of God’s grace to help you. 

People try to change one another through manipulation, through positive or negative reinforcement. While these methods can be effective in changing outside behaviors, they generally don’t effect the heart.  We can do what you say, whether we “like it or not” but it doesn’t mean that we are convinced. It doesn’t mean we are changed.  

However, love can sometimes motivate us to change. Love will cause us to do all kinds of things that we didn’t think we are capable of.  Many a human relationship has been saved because the consequence of the loss of love was hanging in the balance, and in some instances, those changes were “taken to heart”.  

With God on our side, our ability to change has been greatly increased because in reality He has made us new. He doesn’t have to change our heart because He will give us a new one.

The prophet Ezekiel prophesied about the thing that God would do through Christ:

Ezekiel 36:26 (NKJV) 26  I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will take the heart of stone out of your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.

When we received Christ as Lord and Savior, we received the Holy Spirit and the process to change our hearts of stone to a heart of flesh has happened.  Ever wonder why your emotions are all over the place since coming to Christ, you have a new heart!

So let that new heart beat with the love for the God who saved you and made you new. Use your love for God as your motivation to know Him more and to repent, to “take to heart” His truth found in the word of God and to apply it to your life.  

The good news is that we don’t have to be perfect in this process of change.   We just have to keep following the Lord.  His grace will work in our lives the more we seek Him and follow His lead. 

So keep walking and talking with God.  You tried to change and failed, your failure probably caused you to stop talking to Him and made you want to run away.  But stop running, there is nothing to be ashamed of or afraid of any more. God is with you, no matter what.  So don’t run and hide, instead stay with Him, ask Him for His strength and you will receive it, renew your mind with His word and you will receive His wisdom and if you apply it, it will transform your life.  

But above all remember that repentance is the process of becoming who you were made to be and the God of all creation is encouraging you every step of the way. Like a Father teaching His children to walk, He will cheer you on, He will steady you as you go, and He will pick you up when you fall.  So reach out to Him, take His hand and go with Him to the new life of freedom and victory that is yours for the taking.

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

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

This morning’s meditation verse is:

1 Peter 5:7 (NLT2)
7  Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you.

Today’s verse encourages us that we can give all of our worries and cares to God because of the simple fact of His love for us. He cares for us.  

He cares!

Have you ever met someone new and come to the realization that they liked you?  Have you ever had someone express their fondness for you by helping you out in some way?  

If you have, you probably have had a moment where inside your mind or heart you said to yourself: He cares! or She cares!  And on earth, there isn’t really many feelings that beat that feeling.  To feel loved, to feel cared for.   And God loves us. God cares about us.  

Now sometimes in human relationships we can discover that some people’s care for us was conditional. There are heartbreaking true stories of people leaving others in relationships when “the going got tough”.  “Fair weather friends” are perhaps the mildest form of this but even the deepest bonds or relationships like marriage or family can suffer or be broken because people are limited and can seek escape from “your problems”.  

But God’s not like that.  Today’s verse tells us of the truth of God’s tenacious and loyal love for us. It tells us that we can give all of our worries and carries to Him.  

So no matter what you are facing, or no matter how many people decide to cut and run or just don’t want to hear about your problems anymore, remember that God care for you and will not only listen to your worries and cares, but will also give you the strength, wisdom, and guidance to endure them and overcome them.  

______________________________________________________________________

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.

Prayer As the Primary Weapon

If Paul were to summarize the primary way of gaining access to the power of God for waging successful spiritual warfare, he would unwaveringly affirm that it is through prayer. Prayer is given much greater prominence in the spiritual warfare passage than any of the other implements. Prayer is also the only spiritual piece of armor that is not given a corresponding physical weapon (like a breastplate or a shield).

When Paul spoke of prayer, it was closely related to his concept of faith. He also mentioned faith for its role in engaging in spiritual warfare. He associated it with the shield. It is mentioned explicitly as the means of overcoming intense diabolic attack: “Take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one” (Eph 6:16). Prayer became for Paul the practical manifestation of faith. By these means, Satan is effectively resisted.

Throughout Ephesians, Paul stressed the role of faith in appropriating the power of God. The faith he called for is based on the objective fact of Christ’s resurrection and exaltation over the supernatural powers. God’s power is not imparted to Christians by wearing a magical amulet or even a crucifix. Neither does one gain access to it by performing a rite or by chanting certain words. God’s power is given through simple trust in him.

This trust finds expression most commonly in the act of prayer. Paul consequently summoned believers to pray “at all times” and “for all the saints” (Eph 6:18). Paul himself modeled this to the readers in this letter, telling them the essence of what he has prayed for them—their increased awareness of God’s power and for God to strengthen them with his power (Eph 1:15–23; 3:14–19).

The spiritual warfare passage is often viewed in individual terms; that is, each individual Christian should pray and ask God for strength to do battle. Paul actually depicted the arming in corporate terms. The whole church is involved in the process of arming. In fact, each believer is responsible for arming other believers. All of Paul’s admonitions in this passage are in the plural. More important, however, is the fact that Paul urged believers to pray “for all the saints” (Eph 6:18). Since this exhortation is part of Paul’s explanation of prayer as the final piece of armor, it is most natural to understand it as his recommendation as to the prerequisite and means of acquiring divine enablement. This fact is supported when he requested prayer for himself in the verses immediately following. In essence, he is asking his readers to arm him for spiritual warfare, particularly in his offensive act of proclaiming the gospel. Certainly the two prayers of Ephesians 1 and 3 model this fact. Through those two prayers, Paul deployed God’s armor for the protection and use of his readers. By leaving aside the metaphorical language of spiritual warfare and putting it into the simplest terms, one could say Paul prayed that God would endow them with his power so they could successfully resist Satan’s temptations and be divinely enabled to proclaim the gospel fearlessly in spite of demonic hindrance and hostility.

Spiritual warfare, therefore, is more proactive than reactive. It is the preparation before the storm. In practical terms it involves praying for “the healthy” in addition to praying for “the sick”; that is, praying specifically for individuals to resist temptation in their personal areas of vulnerability. It involves praying for the progress of the gospel in light of localized and intense demonic hostility to the ongoing mission of the church. This concept has the potential of rejuvenating prayer groups and prayer meetings in the church today.

Today’s church needs a stronger sense of the mutuality of the body of Christ. The Western church, in particular, is guilty of an “individualistic Christianity.” Instead of condemning the brother or sister who falls into sin, we need to look first to ourselves. Did we pray for God’s grace to enable that person to resist Satan’s solicitations to evil? Spiritual warfare is a call to corporate prayer.[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), 158–159.

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.

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

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. 

______________________________________________________________________

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.

Wednesday, August 3, 2022

Putting the Toys Away - Purity 800


Putting the Toys Away - Purity 800

Purity 800 08/03/2022 Purity 800 Podcast

Good morning,

Today’s photo of a white Horse underneath a blazing sun on a hillside somewhere in Kosovo comes to us from a friend who is currently taking a year to be a part of a traveling Christian mission trip. They shared this pic among many others back on July 7th documenting their groups recent adventure, commenting:

“We Biked Across Kosovo!!! It was an experience for sure, several sore bottoms and close to 100 miles biked! We made it to the Village of Brod, the place God pointed us towards.

During this time I learned so much about the Provision of God. Whenever we wonder if we would have a place to spend the night after all day of biking (pushing our bikes😵💫), we would stop and ask God, and He always had something for us. God showed up over and over again throughout our day in that village.

Sometimes we just need to stop and recognize all the details we missed through the mundaneness of life. He’s in every single moment. Let’s stop for a moment and ponder all of the wonderful things He has gifted us with…” 

I couldn’t agree more with my friend and part of our purpose for  doing this blog and podcast is to serve as an encouraging word for others to recognize the presence of God in their lives and to seek to know His will for our lives and to follow where He leads us.    

Well, It’s Wednesday and I thought my friend’s “Typical horse sighting” served as an adequate visual representation of “hump day” and their words were a good encouragement to lead us through the midpoint of the first work week of August.  

I for one am loving the decision I made to make a fresh new start with the eighth month of the year  by deciding to focus on my physical and spiritual health by watching what I put in my body in terms of food and what I put in my mind and soul in terms of what I put before my eyes.  

Over the last three days, I have remained “on plan” with my food choices and exercise regiment and have avoided seeking entertainment from secular sources and instead have been focusing on preparing for my weekly discipleship’s group presentation tomorrow and viewing only material that would edify my spirit, Christian material that I was interested in but had left unattended as I was under the false impression that I wasn’t “really relaxing” if I was only watching Christian material.  

The advice to be careful about what we put before our eyes is a pretty basic tenant of Christian Discipleship but I really think I might be in the midst of a break through here because even though I “knew that” it was better to only view or put my focus upon things that would build me up, particularly Christian material, than it was to watch “junk” from the secular world, I am realizing that “knowledge” was sort of hypothetical. This knowledge “that it was better to watch or focus on Christian material”  was a mental construct that didn’t penetrate to my heart but I think that it is now.  

I think It's time to get rid of the “shoulds” and just do what is best, for my body, for my mind, and for my soul and for my spirit.  

When we come into this Christian walk of faith, there is an encouragement from the world and from ourselves to draw back, to “not be so extreme”, and to go back to the things we have always liked to find comfort, solace, and relaxation. 

And believe me, I think for those new in Christ, it is wise to go slow in this walk at first because we need the time to renew our mind by word of God and to let the truth of who we are in Christ to be accepted and applied to our life. 

But in truth, here is one of those startling realizations of our faith, we are not who we used to be any more. We are new creations in Christ and as much as we enjoyed certain hobbies and forms of entertainment in the past, they may not be best for us anymore.  As we walk out our faith, we are maturing and we may discover that not only are we “growing out” of our former childish ways that we learned from world system, we may discover that they are increasing becoming “alien” to us as we realize the things we are into really have no part in our new life.  

Just as a young adult may have some grief over having to leave their toys behind as they are called to grow up and take on new responsibilities but know that their “growing up” is right and to remain in their childish ways would be dysfunctional, Christians may have to mourn the loss of seemingly harmless things that subtly deny or oppose the truth of God’s word, knowing that the Lord has “better things” for us to see and do.   

Just like that young adult may go back to their toys only to discover that “the thrill is gone” or don’t find the same enjoyment in them because “they are too old”, the Christian may increasingly discover that the Holy Spirit is making them more sensitive or discerning and the secular things they enjoyed in the past some how no longer seem worth while or may even seem “wrong” in some way.   

Who we are is not what we do.  Our character defines who we are and it drives what we will do.  

For the Christian, we have a new life given to us by God and the Holy Spirit is calling us to increasingly have the character of Christ.  So as we walk out our faith, the Christian needn’t fear that they are “losing their identity” when they begin to walk away from the things they always watched or did. 

Those shows, programs, or hobbies that we did before coming to Christ did not make us who we are. God made us. And by His grace, He has called us to life everlasting and to be the people we always wanted to be but who never dared to dream we could be.  

When we go back to those old childish ways of seeking entertainment, it’s like we are choosing to be children again, and not only that it is a subtle way of turning away from God. In essence, when we turn to the world for our comfort, relaxation, or entertainment it is subtly saying that who we were before coming to Christ was “just fine” and we don’t want to “grow up.”

The same goes for food.  I have studied and learned some hard truths about the things I used to eat and have made some considerable progress with my health because I have eliminated certain foods from my diet completely.  But Oh there are some foods that I know are not healthy for me and my health goals, that I have gone back to “feel good” and surprise most of those are sweet things I enjoyed as a child. 

So instead of doing what I “know” is good, I choose to go back to things from my childhood that seem harmless but that are actually sabotaging my progress and are opposed to my health goals.  

Secular entertainment contradicts the word of God and who I want to be in terms of my character.  And “junk foods” contradict the order that God created in that if I indulge in junk, my body will suffer. 

This might seem radical but all truth is God’s truth. So although there might not be a book on nutrition in the Bible, our scientific studies and observations of God’s created order can reveal to us “God’s truth on nutrition”. 

I won’t list anything here but health experts will tell you to avoid certain foods or avoid exceeding certain levels of nutrition.  Because these principles are based on observations from God’s created order, when we ignore and violate the principles for proper nutrition, one could say that we are denying “God’s truth on nutrition” and we suffer the negative consequences for our nutritional “sins”.  

The breakthrough that I am talking about here is a paradigm shift where we no longer turn a blind eye to how what we are doing opposes the principles of God’s truth and instead align our behaviors to stay within God’s wisdom. 

The idea of only doing what is healthy and spiritual edifying is incredibly simple but I think it is something that we find just as easy to dismiss as the world, the flesh, the devil, and our pasts have taught us and actively encourage us to compromise “what its best” for “what we have always known” of for “what we have always done”.  

The problem with those last two things is that as Christians, we are no longer the people that we have always been.  We are new creations. 

So let’s keep walking and talking with God and let’s renew our minds with God’s word but let’s also challenge the things we do and question whether we are living like a child of God, or like the unredeemed children of wrath we once were who simply didn’t know any better, or did but was powerless to change.

As Christians, we don’t so much have to change. We are new creations. We just have to be who we are now.  So the next time we feel like doing “what we always have done” decide if that lines up with who you are now in Christ and instead of mentally agreeing that your old ways aren’t the best, know in your heart that they really don’t have a place in your new life.   Say goodbye to your childish ways and put the toys away. 

Those things belong to some one who is dead and gone, and instead of living like a ghost of your former self who was always depressed, guilty, angry, anxious, or sad, leave those things behind and walk into the new life God has given you.

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

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

This morning’s meditation verse is:

2 Corinthians 9:10 (NLT2)
10  For God is the one who provides seed for the farmer and then bread to eat. In the same way, he will provide and increase your resources and then produce a great harvest of generosity in you.

Today’s verse speaks about the Lord’s provision for the Christian.  

As my missionary friend marveled over how the Lord provided for their team in Kosovo, today’s verse reminds us that God will provide but the text indicates that although the Lord may provide for our material needs that real harvest and increase in resources will be in us.  

As we walk out our faith, growth happens in our character.  When we realize that the Lord will provide for our material needs and we recognize all that He has done for us we become generous.

So show and share the love God in you, by giving what you have received to others.

 

______________________________________________________________________

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.

Christ Alone Is Sufficient

Paul applied his teaching on the sole supremacy of Christ to their situation. He wanted nothing more than to see them conducting their lives with Christ as the focus. He writes, “So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness” (Col 2:6–7). Paul assured them that they have all the resources they need in Christ. Just as God bestowed on Christ all his divine fullness, so Christ imparts to believers the enabling power, love and divine grace for resisting the influence of evil and living according to God’s desires. Paul plainly says, “and you have been given fullness in Christ” (Col 2:10). It is no mistake that the very next statement that Paul makes is the description of Christ as the one “who is the head over every power and authority” (Col 2:10). The clear implication of this passage is that part of the divine resources that Christ bestows on believers is his authority over the evil powers.

Christ can impart his fullness to them because of their unique relationship to him, symbolized in the rite of baptism. They have been made alive with Christ by being identified with him in his death and resurrection (Col 2:12–13). Their death with Christ has effectively rendered them dead to the powerful influence of the elemental spirits (Col 2:20). He alone is sufficient to protect them from evil spirits. No phylacteries, amulets or talismans are necessary. Neither is mystery initiation essential for additional spiritual enlightenment since Christ is “the mystery of God” and in him “are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge (gnōsis)” (Col 2:2–3).

The hope and strength of these believers is wrapped up in the fact that Christ actually indwells their lives (Col 1:27). This fact is not to be understood in the sense of a mystical absorption into deity. Christ personally indwells their lives and infuses them with his power, filling them with his love and giving them a blessed hope for the future. This is the essence of the Christian “mystery.”

The epitomizing trait of Christianity is relationship with Christ. Given his all-encompassing lordship and his all-sufficiency, the Colossians are left with no legitimate reason to syncretize their faith. Christ is all they need!

Appropriating the Resources in Christ

Having the right concept of Christ is not enough. Giving assent to a creed or a statement of faith does not guarantee victorious living. In practice, theology can easily become severed from ethics, and what one believes about Christ may not necessarily affect the way a person lives. Christology has life-changing implications. It demands a total response and commitment.

The Colossians needed to have their concept of Christ purified, and they needed to be admonished to draw on the resources he provides for day-to-day life. Paul chided them for “not holding fast to the head, from whom the entire body, being supplied and held together by the joints and ligaments, grows with the growth which is from God” (Col 2:19 NASB). It is the “head” of the body that provides what they need, but they have to seek and be willing to receive the nourishment he offers. They also need to endeavor earnestly to live in a way that is consonant with the character of their new heavenly life. They are citizens of two kingdoms. The temptation will be for them to fix their attention on the limitations and problems of life in the present evil age. Paul contended strongly that their focus of attention must be placed on the character of their new life and all the spiritual blessings, security and divine endowments that it brings. For Paul this focus is the secret for overcoming life’s obstacles in the here and now; it is the basis for Christian ethics. New Testament scholars refer to it as Paul’s “eschatological tension” between the “already” and the “not-yet,” which is at the heart of his theology.

Appropriating the benefits of this new life requires that the Colossians set their hearts and minds “on things above” (Col 3:1–2). “Above” is where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. It is also where the lives of the Colossians are “now hidden with Christ in God” (Col 3:3) because of their identification with Christ’s death. Part of seeking the heavenly life is through deeply immersing themselves in Christ’s teachings. Paul encouraged them to “let the word of Christ dwell in you richly” (Col 3:16). It also involves prayer, an expression of faith in God but also the channel to communicate with God and convey one’s needs to him. Paul therefore enjoined them to “devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful” (Col 4:2). Aware of his own need for divine strength and enablement, Paul requested prayer for himself (Col 4:3–4).

At Colossae the syncretistic impulse facing Christians was strong, especially since a lifetime pattern of worshiping many gods had reinforced it. The pressure from outside the church must have been equally intense. People in Colossian society would not have understood Christ’s exclusivistic claims. The false teaching at Colossae was undoubtedly packaged and presented in an alluring way. But for the apostle Paul it was wrong. It was wrong because evil spirits inspired it, and because it detracted from the supreme and sufficient lordship of Jesus Christ.[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), 145–147.