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Showing posts with label Confess. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Confess. Show all posts

Friday, March 29, 2024

Sad Friday? - 40 Day Journey with Martin Luther – Day 39 - Purity 1312

Sad Friday? - 40 Day Journey with Martin Luther – Day 39 - Purity 1312

Purity 1312 03/29/2024 Purity 1312 Podcast

Purity 1312 on YouTube:



Good morning,

Today’s photo of a moody sunset dusk, or the first rays of sunrise, over an unknown lake comes to us from an unknown FB friend who shared this brooding or hopeful scene on social media on or around April 19th, 2021.  If this somber yet beautiful photo is yours, give us a heads up and we will update the blog to give you the photo credit you deserve.  

Well, It’s Good Friday, Thank God and Thank You Jesus, and I shared today’s photo because it has a solemn feel to it, if it is a sunset, but at the same time I realized that this could be a sunrise and if that’s the case the story is different, darkness is being dispelled by the first light of day as the sun will rise over the horizon and bring the hope and light of a new day over all the land. Because of that duality of perspective I thought the photo was a good visual representation of Good Friday as this is the day we remember how Jesus suffered and died on the cross for our sin, so it was a dark day, but now that we know His sacrifice was necessary and He didn’t stay dead – He was resurrected and proved that He is God, we can recognize the although the day of Jesus’ death was dark, the light of the world was soon to be revealed.  As much as we should appreciate the pain and suffering that Jesus suffered on our behalf, we shouldn’t beat ourselves up over it too much because God wants us to rejoice in the resurrected life that we are able to share in since Christ died and rose again.  Some say “It’s Good Friday… but Sunday’s coming” and while I get it, that’s true, the higher truth is that Resurrection Sunday has already come and we don’t have to necessarily go through an emotional rollercoaster of guilt and sadness each year to prove we understand what Christ had to suffer through or to prove we are a devout and religious Christian.  I would say crying and being sad on Good Friday is fine if it comes from a sincere heart, but if you are living like a fool and a slave to sin all the other days of the year and only “come to God” during Easter and Christmas, you may be putting on a show and are missing the abundant life that Jesus died for you to experience.  

Our faith is not about religious observances or ceremonies and periodic sacraments. Our faith is about a relationship with the living God, believe me when I tell you that you will be moved to tears – of joy and sorrow – when you pick up your cross and follow Him.  You will be crying on a lot more days than “Sad Friday”.

I mean seriously…Do you reserve today for weeping over Jesus and then spend the rest of the year lost in the world system that opposes Him?  

Anyway, if that’s your tradition – or sincere spiritual practice, it is the appropriate time for it, the season of Lent.  We shouldn’t take Christ’s sufferings lightly but if your life is mostly “normal” or secular and not defined by your faith, let me encourage you to go deeper in your walk with the Lord after this season of Lent. And speaking of Lent…

It’s the thirty-ninth day of Lent and so we continue my personal walkthrough of Gracia Grindal’s 40 Day Journey with Martin Luther to observe and celebrate the Lenten season.   In this walkthrough of Grindal’s devotional,  it is our hope that we will get to know Martin Luther a little better as we seek to draw closer to the Lord on our journey to Resurrection Sunday – Easter.  

And so we continue.

Journey Day 39

What sins is a person to confess?

Before God one is to acknowledge the guilt for all sins, even those of which we are not aware, as we do in the Lord's Prayer. However, before the confessor we are to confess only those sins of which we have knowledge and which trouble us.

We are to confess our guilt before one another and forgive one another before we come to God and ask for forgiveness. Now, all of us are debtors to one another; therefore we should and we may confess publicly in everyone's presence, no one being afraid of anyone else. For it is true, as the proverb says, “If one person is upright, so are they all”; no one behaves toward God or the neighbor as he or she ought. However, besides the sum total of our sin, there are also individual ones, when a person has provoked someone else to anger and needs to ask for pardon. Thus we have in the Lord's Prayer a twofold absolution: both our sins against God and against our neighbors are forgiven when we forgive our neighbors and become reconciled with them.

Biblical Wisdom

So when you are offering your gift at the altar, if you remember that your brother or sister has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar and go; first be reconciled to your brother or sister, and then come and offer your gift. Matthew 5: 23-24.

Silence for Meditation.

Pause the podcast, or stop reading, and sit quietly for 60 seconds, a few minutes, or 10-15 minutes, or however long you feel comfortable with and have time for. Focus on your breath and the calm stillness in the present moment that is always available to us in God’s creation. Meditate on Martin Luther’s comments for the day, and the content of today’s Biblical wisdom.

Questions to Ponder

·       Do you think confession is about guilt and shame or about grace and freedom? Explain.

I think it is about both! We should have genuine guilt and shame about our sins but that should drive us to confess it so we can experience God’s grace and freedom.  Of course, freedom requires repentance- we don’t just “sin confess, sin confess” – we are to let our guilt and shame – and the grace we receive to drive us to make a decision to submit to God and resist the devil and make the daily conscious decision to stop sinning in the ways we have in the past.  Only when we ask God to help us to stop sincerely and make ourselves accountable to God, ourselves, and others to make a permanent change can we experience the freedom that God wants to live in. 

·       Why does a relationship with God and our relationships with others need both confession and forgiveness in order to thrive?

Our relationships with God and man require confession and forgiveness to thrive because we will make mistakes and we need to be honest to God and others when we mess up and seek their forgiveness.  Of course, we also must be sincere in our efforts to repent because otherwise we are abusing our relationships – saying one thing but doing another – in essence making each confession another sin as our apologies mean nothing if we refuse to change.  So confess and seek forgiveness but make your relationship with God and man thrive by being sincere to make a change so you don’t need to confess and seek forgiveness for the same thing again.  

·       Does your community of faith place too little, enough, or too much emphasis on confession and forgiveness in both our relationship with God and in our human relationships? Explain.

I go to a seeker friendly church and all the messages are positive and often encourage us to forgive as we have been forgiven. There is little or no emphasis on confession.  Quite frankly although the messages call us to be followers of Jesus and are biblically sound, there seems to be an unspoken policy to “keep your sin to yourself” or to “mind your own business” as certain sinful lifestyles are not called out as sin within our church.  And before you condemn my church… I would say that most churches operate under the same policy.  Pastors don’t tend to preach about things that will offend people that will empty the seats.  Calling out heterosexual couples living in sin doesn’t usually get any mention at all nor does sex outside of marriage get highlighted too much.  So no, pastors calling people to confess doesn’t usually come up too much…. because there is a lot to confess.

Psalm Fragment

Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my thoughts. See if there is any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting. Psalm 139: 23-24.

Journal Reflections

·       The daily practice of confession and forgiveness with both God and others can be seen as a regular practice that builds our relationship with God. If this is a spiritual habit you presently are following, write.about its impact on your life. If you are not following this practice now, why not give it a try?

Yes, while I don’t confess like Martin Luther did when he was a monk, I do keep short accounts with the Lord by confessing any known sin and asking for forgiveness regularly, if not daily. This practice of living in the presence of the Lord gives me peace – when I say walking and talking with God – that’s what I do – I talk to God throughout the day and continually seek to be with Him and right with Him.  It makes life an exciting spiritual adventure and I recommend it to all – get on the path of Christian discipleship and walk in the Spirit.

·       Remember a time when you knew you needed to ask someone for pardon. What did you do? What were the consequences?

When I went through recovery in 2015, I did my amends and sought the forgiveness of everyone for anything and everything I had done in my life that offended them or caused them pain. It was a humbling experience and while I am sure that there may be some people I have hurt that didn’t get the news of my ammends – because they were absolute strangers to me that I met in a drunken fog or time and distance has separated us – I made every effort to ask forgiveness.  I even posted to social media to ask forgiveness.  But the amazing thing was that there was really no response, people had either forgiven me already or had forgotten or didn’t realize the things I had done or didn’t care.  It taught me that my drama wasn’t the center of the universe and that people had moved on. The truth was I didn’t have many relationships that were deeply personal and didn’t really try to hurt people in the past, so the offenses weren’t very deep because the relationships were pretty shallow.  It taught me humility and gave me peace.   

·       Journal on a moment in your life when you experienced reconciliation with another through confession and forgiveness. What did you learn from the experience? Has the learning stayed with you as a guide?

As I confessed, I didn’t really have deep relationships that needed to be reconciled at the time of my amends. Since then I haven’t really been separated from anyone because of sin on my part, except for my ex, I suppose and while I asked for and received her forgiveness early in the days when we mutually decided to divorce, I won’t be reconciled to her in terms of our marriage. Our decision to divorce was a final one and while I have forgiven and hold no animosity toward her, we are not getting back together.  She refused to walk with me into a life of faith in Christ and we have decided to go our separate ways.  That experience has taught me that forgiveness and reconciliation – or  the reestablishment of a relationship– can be two different things.  

Prayers for the Life of Faith

Pray that you will be given the grace and courage to ask forgiveness when it is necessary and that the other would have the grace and courage to forgive you.

Lord, I pray that I will be given the grace and courage to ask forgiveness when it is necessary that whoever I offend would have the grace and courage to forgive me. Amen.

Prayer For Today

Lord Jesus, I long for reconciliation with (name). Lead me and guide me so that I have the grace both to ask for forgiveness and to forgive.

Amen.

(Gracia M. Grindal. 40-day Journey With Martin Luther. Kindle Edition.

(We encourage you to purchase Grindal’s book and take the 40 Day Journey with Martin Luther for yourself by purchasing Grindal’s book wherever books are sold. You can find it online at many different sites and purchase it new, used – paper or electronic for less than $15.00).

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

For those who want more evidence for Christianity than my simple encouragements provide, I offer apologist, Frank Turek’s website, https://crossexamined.org/ .

Today’s Bible verses come to us from “The Quick Scripture Reference for Counseling” By John G. Kruis.

( While Bible verses on various topics of Counseling can be found with a quick Google search, we encourage you to purchase this resource to support the late author’s work. (https://www.amazon.com/Quick-Scripture-Reference-Counseling-Kruis-ebook/dp/B00CIUJZT2?ref_=ast_author_dp )

This morning’s meditation verses come from the section on Contentment, Coveting & and Priorities.

Ecclesiastes 5:8-17 (NLT2)
8  Don’t be surprised if you see a poor person being oppressed by the powerful and if justice is being miscarried throughout the land. For every official is under orders from higher up, and matters of justice get lost in red tape and bureaucracy.
9  Even the king milks the land for his own profit!
10  Those who love money will never have enough. How meaningless to think that wealth brings true happiness!
11  The more you have, the more people come to help you spend it. So what good is wealth—except perhaps to watch it slip through your fingers!

12  People who work hard sleep well, whether they eat little or much. But the rich seldom get a good night’s sleep.
13  There is another serious problem I have seen under the sun. Hoarding riches harms the saver.
14  Money is put into risky investments that turn sour, and everything is lost. In the end, there is nothing left to pass on to one’s children.
15  We all come to the end of our lives as naked and empty-handed as on the day we were born. We can’t take our riches with us.
16  And this, too, is a very serious problem. People leave this world no better off than when they came. All their hard work is for nothing—like working for the wind.
17  Throughout their lives, they live under a cloud—frustrated, discouraged, and angry.

Today’s verses fall under the twenty-third point of our counseling reference guide resource’s section on Contentment, Coveting, and Priorities.

23. Riches are meaningless; wealth is fleeting.

Today’s verses highlight the impermanent nature of wealth and of our lives and should not drive us to despair but should encourage us to invest in God’s kingdom.  Ecclesiastes tells it like it is, but we shouldn’t miss the lesson that all that is fleeting should draw us to the One who doesn’t change and who calls us to live, through faith in Jesus, with Him forever.

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

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 “According to Your Word: Morning and Evening Through the New Testament” By Stephen F. Olford – A Collection of Devotional Journals: 1940-1941.

As always, I share this information for educational purposes and encourage you all to purchase Olford’s books for your own private study and to support his work.  This resource is available online for less than $10 at many sites.

EVENING READING: JOHN 4

“The man believed the word.” – John 4:50

Here is certainly a good example of expectant faith. The Lord simply said to him, “Your son lives” (v. 51) and he believed the Word. The result was that his son was healed.

This is the source of real spiritual blessing – namely, believing and claiming the promises of God. There must be expectant faith, however. James says, “Let not that man [who wavers in the prayer of faith] suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord” (James 1:7). Expectant faith is the key to the verse which says, “Ask, and you will receive” (John 16:24).

O Lord help me, I pray, to believe Your Word
even as this man did. Amen.[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 YouTube Channel: https://www.youtube.com/@MT4Christ247

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

My wife, TammyLyn, also offers Christian encouragement via her Ask Seek Knock blog (https://tammylynask.blogspot.com/ ),  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)

“The views, opinions, and commentary of this publication are those of the author, M.T. Clark, only, and do not purport to reflect the opinions or views of any of the photographers, artists, ministries, or other authors of the other works that may be included in this publication, and do not necessarily reflect the views or positions of any entities the author may represent.”

Encouragement for the Path of Christian Discipleship

 

Thursday, March 28, 2024

Moving Out and Moving On - 40 Day Journey with Martin Luther – Day 38 - Purity 1311


Moving Out and Moving On - 40 Day Journey with Martin Luther – Day 38 - Purity 1311

Purity 1311 03/28/2024 Purity 1311 Podcast

Purity 1311 on YouTube: 



Good morning,

Today’s photo of green grass, a winding path, and a stand of trees near the shore of what I suspect to be Lake Ontario comes to us from an unknown FB friend who shared this scene on social media on or around May 23rd, 2021. If this beauty is yours, give us a heads up and we will update the blog to give you the photo credit you deserve after the fact.

Well, It’s Maundy Thursday, and tonight I will lead one of the men from the Freedom in Christ Course through the Steps to Freedom in Christ. While any day is a good day to go through that prayerful repentance process, I have to admit that choosing the day when we remember the night that Jesus humbled himself to wash the Apostles’ feet is a good choice as this man will seek to be washed clean of any spiritual or personal conflicts from his past that he has been carrying and he will be able to walk into Resurrection Sunday knowing that he has renounced the lies and defilements of this corrupted world and fully committed himself to his identity in Christ and following Jesus.  

When we decide to get right with God and choose to walk in the Spirit with the rest of our lives, the joy of our new life in Christ is palpable but at the same time, we should also realize that there may be tough roads to travel ahead because of our decision to walk the way of Jesus.  You might think that the decision to “do what’s right according to God’s word” and to attempt to live a righteous and holy life would be applauded, but if we look at the life of Jesus, we can see that some people will hate us for it. If people hated Jesus who was without sin, they will probably oppose us too – in fact Jesus told us they would. In

John 15:18-19 (NKJV) , where Jesus said:
18  "If the world hates you, you know that it hated Me before it hated you.
19  If you were of the world, the world would love its own. Yet because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you.

When people are living a fleshly or sinful life and don’t have a relationship with the Lord, our Christian witness can cause people to dislike us. People don’t like the idea that they aren’t living as they should, and some will vehemently rebel and oppose any attempts on our part to encourage them to “get right with God” or even to “do what is right”.  

Yesterday, my son decided to move out of my home. He doesn’t have any visible relationship with God as he stopped going to church when I left that decision up to him. Recently, he quit his job and has been suffering from what looked like clinical depression at times but I think it is just a depressed state because he doesn’t know what to do with his future, he didn’t prepare himself for it, and his situation demands that he work to support himself, but he doesn’t want to work.  The answer to his problem is the cause of his problem. Working would give him the means to support himself and thrive but he doesn’t like it.  So he quit. He needs to work but work depresses him. But the fact that he doesn’t have any money depresses him also. It’s a really “double bind”.  Having to work bums him out but not working doesn’t solve the problem.  In January, he stopped working and I gave him 60 days’ notice to get a job or to move out of my house. I wanted to motivate him to “do what was right”.  But after much drama and no action, my son decided to move out of the house because I ordered him to clean up his act by getting a haircut and to get a job.  The haircut was the deal breaker.  Although my son will periodically cut his hair cut short because I basically told him to do it, he decided to move out and move in with his sister.  So before the 60 days was up, and even though I was willing to give him another 30 to get a job, Brennan moved out.  

And although I don’t like the way things transpired, I have peace about Brennan hasn’t living right and he is free to continue to live the way he chooses but it doesn’t have to be under my roof.  He was destined to move out someday and someday was yesterday.  I still love my son and wish him well and pray he will make good choices, get a job, and support himself.

 We can’t control anyone and all we can do is try to encourage them to do what we know to be right and let them make their own decisions.  Brennan’s problems are his problems, and he will have to figure out how to solve them. I release him to the Lord and the care of his sister.  

Well, it’s Lent - the season of letting and letting God and drawing close to Him and asking him to take our burdens. And speaking of Lent…

It’s the thirty-eighth day of Lent and so we continue my personal walkthrough of Gracia Grindal’s 40 Day Journey with Martin Luther to observe and celebrate the Lenten season.   In this walkthrough of Grindal’s devotional,  it is our hope that we will get to know Martin Luther a little better as we seek to draw closer to the Lord on our journey to Resurrection Sunday – Easter.  

And so we continue.

Journey Day 38

What is confession?

Answer: Confession consists of two parts. One is that we confess our sins. The other is that we receive the absolution, that is, forgiveness, from the confessor as from God himself and by no means doubt but firmly believe that our sins are thereby forgiven before God in heaven.

(As to Confession) I refer to the practice of confessing to God alone or to our neighbor alone, asking for forgiveness. These two kinds are included in the Lord's Prayer when we say, “Forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.” Indeed, the entire Lord's Prayer is nothing else than such a confession. For what is our prayer but a confession that we neither have nor do what we ought and a plea for grace and a joyful conscience? This kind of confession should and must take place continuously as long as we live. For this is the essence of a genuinely Christian life, to acknowledge that we are sinners and to pray for grace.

Biblical Wisdom

This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light and in him there is no darkness at all. If we say that we have fellowship with him while we are walking in darkness, we lie and do not do what is true; but if we walk in the light as he himself is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin. If we confess our sins, he who is faithful and just will forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us. 1 John 1: 5-10.

Silence for Meditation.

Pause the podcast, or stop reading, and sit quietly for 60 seconds, a few minutes, or 10-15 minutes, or however long you feel comfortable with and have time for. Focus on your breath and the calm stillness in the present moment that is always available to us in God’s creation. Meditate on Martin Luther’s comments for the day, and the content of today’s Biblical wisdom.

Questions to Ponder

·       Why is confession the “essence of a genuinely Christian life”?

Confession is the essence of a genuinely Christian life because it involves our acknowledging that God’s ways are good and holy, and we have deviated from His ways and separated ourselves from His presence – and so we confess to be made right with God and to restore the harmony of our relationship with Him. We will all invariably make missteps on the path of Christian discipleship and so we will need to confess our faults and come back to God’s good graces continually as we attempt to walk with Him.

·       Why do we need to be exhorted and encouraged to confess our sins either to another or to God alone? What is the role of the church?

We need to be exhorted and encouraged to confess our sins because the tendency is to hide our shame, guilt, and continue to stay in our sins.  When we confess to God or other Christians we not only admit that we “did it” we are agreeing that God’s ways are right and that we will try to walk in them.   The church’s role – the body of Christ- is to encourage us to walk by faith and to make us accountable to do so – to provide support, instruction, and fellowship to help us to live a Christian life.

·       The reading from 1 John points to our ability to deceive ourselves when it comes to sin. How does our culture encourage such self-deception? How can we learn to avoid such self-deception?

Our culture encourages self-deception by either denying that there is anything wrong with what we are doing or that Jesus’ blood gives us a license to sin. The best way to avoid such self-deception is to know and live by the truth of God’s word and to make ourselves accountable to God and a trusted Christian or group of Christians to do so.

Psalm Fragment

Then I acknowledged my sin to you, and I did not hide my iniquity; I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the Lord,” and you forgave the guilt of my sin. Psalm 32:5.

Journal Reflections

·       Meditate on the word “confession”. What feelings does it evoke in you? Do you resist the idea or embrace it as a positive spiritual practice? Why?

The word confession used to evoke feelings of fear, guilt, or shame as “confession” in the Catholic church meant going before the priest and getting “punished” with penance to be clean. It gave one a real sense of “being in trouble”. But now I know that I can confess my sins and not be punished.  Confession is the means by which we get right with God and reestablish the harmony of our relationship.  So I don’t fear it. I embrace it and keep a short list of things to confess by doing it on a continual basis. It’s a positive spiritual practice because it gives me peace.

·       Meditate on the Lord's Prayer and then journal about how this prayer can be used as a daily experience of confession and forgiveness.

The petition to “forgive us our debts” or sins can be seen as a confession. God knows what we have done so we don’t necessarily need to list our transgressions to receive a measure of peace when we sincerely pray the Lord’s Prayer.

·       Meditate on what it means to “walk in the light”. Have you ever experienced light breaking over your soul after an experience of confession and forgiveness? If so, describe the experience and what you learned from it.

Walking in the light means forsaking our sin and living according to God’s will. I have experienced the joy and peace of God’s light and I have learned that God’s ways are the best ways to live by, regardless of the opposition we may face from the world for it.

Prayers for the Life of Faith

Pray that you will learn to live in daily confession and forgiveness so that you will be able to walk in the light with Christ.

Lord, I pray that I will continue to live in daily confession and the forgiveness You give me so that I will increasingly walk in the light with Christ. So help me God, Amen.

Prayer For Today

Dear Heavenly Father, forgive me my sins as I forgive those who have sinned against me. Teach me to revel in your grace.

Amen.

(Gracia M. Grindal. 40-day Journey With Martin Luther. Kindle Edition.

(We encourage you to purchase Grindal’s book and take the 40 Day Journey with Martin Luther for yourself by purchasing Grindal’s book wherever books are sold. You can find it online at many different sites and purchase it new, used – paper or electronic for less than $15.00).

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

For those who want more evidence for Christianity than my simple encouragements provide, I offer apologist, Frank Turek’s website, https://crossexamined.org/ .

Today’s Bible verses come to us from “The Quick Scripture Reference for Counseling” By John G. Kruis.

( While Bible verses on various topics of Counseling can be found with a quick Google search, we encourage you to purchase this resource to support the late author’s work. (https://www.amazon.com/Quick-Scripture-Reference-Counseling-Kruis-ebook/dp/B00CIUJZT2?ref_=ast_author_dp )

This morning’s meditation verses come from the section on Contentment, Coveting & and Priorities.

2 Kings 5:19-27 (ESV)
19  He said to him, “Go in peace.” But when Naaman had gone from him a short distance,
20  Gehazi, the servant of Elisha the man of God, said, “See, my master has spared this Naaman the Syrian, in not accepting from his hand what he brought. As the LORD lives, I will run after him and get something from him.”
21  So Gehazi followed Naaman. And when Naaman saw someone running after him, he got down from the chariot to meet him and said, “Is all well?”
22  And he said, “All is well. My master has sent me to say, ‘There have just now come to me from the hill country of Ephraim two young men of the sons of the prophets. Please give them a talent of silver and two changes of clothing.’”
23  And Naaman said, “Be pleased to accept two talents.” And he urged him and tied up two talents of silver in two bags, with two changes of clothing, and laid them on two of his servants. And they carried them before Gehazi.
24  And when he came to the hill, he took them from their hand and put them in the house, and he sent the men away, and they departed.
25  He went in and stood before his master, and Elisha said to him, “Where have you been, Gehazi?” And he said, “Your servant went nowhere.”
26  But he said to him, “Did not my heart go when the man turned from his chariot to meet you? Was it a time to accept money and garments, olive orchards and vineyards, sheep and oxen, male servants and female servants?
27  Therefore the leprosy of Naaman shall cling to you and to your descendants forever.” So he went out from his presence a leper, like snow.

Today’s verses fall under the twenty-second point of our counseling reference guide resource’s section on Contentment, Coveting, and Priorities.

22. God chastised Gehazi severely for his covetousness.

Today’s verses teach us that our greed and lying can have far reaching effects that could curse us and our descendants. While Gehazi’s fate is immediate, we too could be cursed by carrying the leprosy of covetousness and deceit and suffer from it all the days of our lives and that in turn could be taught to our children who pass it on to the next generation.

Having to look over your shoulder because of the lies you have told or having to satisfy your greed continually is a burden that will cause us pain and so we should learn to always be honest and to be content with what we have.

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

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 “According to Your Word: Morning and Evening Through the New Testament” By Stephen F. Olford – A Collection of Devotional Journals: 1940-1941.

As always, I share this information for educational purposes and encourage you all to purchase Olford’s books for your own private study and to support his work.  This resource is available online for less than $10 at many sites.

MORNING READING: JOHN 3

“God does not give the Spirit by measure.” – John 3:34

It is quite obvious that the reference here is to the Lord Jesus Christ. But nevertheless, this is God's principle – He never gives by measure. He so loved that He gave His only begotten Son. He did not spare His Son. If He did not spare, it follows that He does not give by measure. For in giving His Son, through Him He now freely gives me all things (not by measure!).

The question of the “measure,” however, is governed by the life of the believer. Paul speaks of Christians who were not able to receive the meat of the Word because of carnality. The human vessel can only be filled in so far as it is emptied. The Lord was “The Empty One” for He emptied Himself (See Phil. 2). Therefore, the Spirit was given to Him without measure.

Lord, I empty myself entirely that I may be
filled to overflowing with Your Holy Spirit.[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 YouTube Channel: https://www.youtube.com/@MT4Christ247

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

My wife, TammyLyn, also offers Christian encouragement via her Ask Seek Knock blog (https://tammylynask.blogspot.com/ ),  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)

“The views, opinions, and commentary of this publication are those of the author, M.T. Clark, only, and do not purport to reflect the opinions or views of any of the photographers, artists, ministries, or other authors of the other works that may be included in this publication, and do not necessarily reflect the views or positions of any entities the author may represent.”

Encouragement for the Path of Christian Discipleship

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.

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

This morning’s meditation verse is:

1 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.  

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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.

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.