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Showing posts with label Demons. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Demons. Show all posts

Friday, December 30, 2022

Demonic Oppression, Addiction, and Freedom - Purity 928


Demonic Oppression, Addiction, and Freedom -   Purity 928

Purity 928 12/30/2022 Purity 928 Podcast

Purity 928 on YouTube:



Good morning,

Today’s photo of a green ghostly entity floating through the night sky is not the disembodied soul of a long lost loved one, a demonic spirit, or an intergalactic cruise ship. No today’s photo are of the Northern Lights and it comes to us from my sister-in-law, who is on a post-Christmas vacation with my brother in Iceland!   There are more on the blog today, here:





Well, it is THE last Friday of 2022 and very soon just like those Northern Lights, this year will slowly fade away as tomorrow evening the countdown will begin and 2022 will come to an end.  

While I talked about how some are mourning the bad fortunes of the year that is ending and looking to the new year with fear, I guess since coming to Christ I would be considered an optimist – what some would call a “glass half full” person, but I would have to disagree.  Because I know who I am in Christ and have experienced and continue to walk in my freedom in Christ, if we use the “glass analogy” – I would insist that you call me a “glass full” guy for what we would see as a glass filled to the half way point with some liquid, I would insist that because God is omnipresent, everywhere at once, the “empty” portion of that glass is actually full with the unseen presence of the Lord. So because there is a God who lives – there is NEVER a real or “conceptual” glass that is half full or half empty – of liquid, “good things”, “blessings” or “hope”. God fills in the empty spaces. God gives us “good things”, “blessings” and “hope” that not only fills the glass but who’s presence and love spill over to fill the entire universe.  

God is all around us. If you have put your faith in Jesus as Lord and Savior, The Holy Spirit indwells you and the word of God encourages us to be “filled with the Spirit” continually. And this indicates that God’s presence is also yet another paradox of our faith.  He is omnipresent – everywhere at once, all the time – but if you have ever experienced the manifest presence of the Lord or the “refilling of the Holy Spirit” in your life, you can understand experientially how God can be “more present” at particular times depending on the circumstances and according to His purposes.  

Anyone who has said “And God showed up…” as part of their testimony, knows what I am talking about.   Don’t take the word of me and other “ultra-Christian Pollyanna optimists” for it.  Scripture tells us repeatedly all about how the Lord makes his presence immediate and powerfully experienced.  

 In the Old Testament, the patriarchs and prophets demonstrated the presence of the Lord by speaking for Him with a “Thus saith the Lord…” and to prove they were legit, the Lord backed up His words with miraculous signs and wonders and magnificent victories over “impossible odds” to show everyone that God was “with them”. He was present in a major way.  

In the New Testament, God came to earth in the person of Jesus Christ.  God wanted to demonstrate the He was with us in such an extreme way that people could physically reach out and touch Him, and sometimes with miraculous results.  

When Christ ascended to heaven, He sent the Holy Spirit to be “God in us” and the book of Acts documents how the Holy Spirit was poured out not only on the faithful Jews who believed that Jesus was the Messiah but also upon the Gentiles demonstrating that God would be “with” and “dwell within” everyone who put their faith in Jesus.  

God is not just in a church building, in the Bible, or “somewhere out there” – He is everywhere and His presence, love, and power can be experienced by us when we call on Him and when we follow Him.  

Sometimes when we have a bad year or things go wrong, people ask “where is God in all this?” 

To them I would marvel.. “Right here, right now. Don’t you see Him?”

Things aren’t worse because of Him. The good things, heck all the things, we experienced before this latest calamity were because Him. This is His created universe and He shapes its history. And although this world is broken by sin and death, He has a plan for that.  His word tells us that if we put our faith in Jesus Christ, we will have power over sin and we will never die. In Christ, we receive a new life of freedom that never ends. 

So if you ask me where God is in all of this… I have to ask you: “Where are you?”

The joy of the Lord is our strength.  But if you are not with Him, if you are not In Christ, you won’t know His joy, His love, His peace, or His strength.  

If you are focused on this world and this present moment only, You don’t know the future hope that trumps everything.

God is with us… but are you with God? Did you seek the truth in His word? Did you put your faith in Jesus? Are you walking and talking with Him?      

I hate to sound trite but when we understand the Lord’s kingdom, there are no tragedies.  The dead go where they have chosen to go and our sufferings on this planet are temporary.  This is true for all of us but for those in Christ there is hope as our futures are guaranteed and we will one day experience the reality that God was working all things together for our good, because we love him for loving us and we have been called for His purposes.    

2 Corinthians 4:16-18 (NKJV) encourages us:
16  Therefore we do not lose heart. Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day.
17  For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory,
18  while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal.
 

So start walking by faith, believe what the word of God tells us, and start living according to the reality of what you already have received by the power of the Holy Spirit lives in you. 

But as someone who struggled with just about everything in life, you may be like I was: afflicted with doubts, disbelief, low self-esteem, the sins of this world, or just plain old selfishness.  

But just as I have found my freedom, you can find yours by abandoning the course of your life that has led you to question where God is and to instead seek Him and commit yourself to finding Him and receiving all those “good things” that the word of God promises you.  

If you have “believed on the Lord Jesus”, you are already there.  If you put your faith in Jesus, you just need to follow Him by agreeing with His word and living according to it.  

If you haven’t put your faith in Christ, you can do that – Right Now – with an act of faith – say a prayer – and ask for the Lord to forgive you and to make Jesus your Lord and Savior.  

For the both of you, now you have to renew your mind and resist the devil.   

Oh yeah, this might not just be a matter of memorizing some Bible verses and deciding to be a “good boy or girl” now.  

The difficulties that we have in “believing”, “obeying”, and “repenting” can the result of a combination of things including: 

·       The world - Bad examples – corrupted environment – worldly influences /philosophies – the world taught us some bad ways to think, believe, and live and we need to reject those lies and commit ourselves to believe and live by the truth of God’s word.

·       The flesh -  our individual biological makeups may give us certain advantages or disadvantages – talents or predispositions that have either made us weak toward sins of the flesh or strong in the sin of pride – both are bondages that teach us to live independent of God – but can be retrained – With the power God gives us, our weakness can be overcome and our strengths can be used for good

·       Spiritual forces of darkness – demons – who accuse, condemn, tempt, and deceive us  - whose sole mission is to lead us away from the Lord and who uses the world and flesh to lead us astray.   By Christ’s authority, we can cast out demons.      

I was reading Karl Payne’s book, “Christians, Demonization, and Deliverance” yesterday and his work provided me with food for thought, weapons for spiritual warfare, and the follow insight.  

Payne suggests a deviation from the common “possession/oppression” paradigm.  This paradigm suggests that only Non-Christians could be “possessed” – completely controlled by demons, and that Christians could be “oppressed” – tempted, accused, deceived – by the spiritual forces of darkness.  

The remedy for both of these situations is faith in Christ and “putting on the whole armor of God” and using the word of God as an offensive weapon, like Jesus did in wilderness, rebuking the devil when he shows up with some timely Bible verses and either fleeing from sin or standing firm to deny the lies and temptations that the enemy brings.   Christians the world over have used these tactics of spiritual warfare with great success.  

However, Payne’s book documents the fact some Christian’s battles with the enemy are unrelenting, thus his suggestion for a third category of demonic involvement: “demonization” – where people who have put their faith in Christ – Christians – have unwittingly given a ‘foothold” to the enemy – and have unknowingly given the spiritual forces of darkness a “place” in their lives – where they are free to remain and to wage a war of unrelenting torment.   

Demonization would be categorized by Christians who can never maintain freedom from besetting sins or who never mature in their faith because of demonic interference and continuous interior dialogs of condemnation. 

Payne asked us to wonder:

 Why is it that some Christians can have victory over addictions or other sins of the flesh, while others can’t? 

Why is it that some Christians have a rich relationship with the Lord while others continuously remain unsure of their place in His kingdom?

Why is it that some Christians can pray with confidence and others don’t think their prayers go anywhere? 

Why is it that some Christians love to read the Bible and others find no joy in it at all?   

While it certainly is possible that these differences can be explained by individual biological or volitional differences, Payne suggests that we should also consider the demonic as a contributing cause in these struggles.   

But there is good news to this dilemma as well.   As state above Christ has given us the power to overcome the spiritual forces of darkness. So even in this troubling “worst case scenario”, we can have hope.  

Ask me how I know…

In the 38 years prior to coming to Christ, I was inundated with the sins of the flesh, a rebel spirit, addictions, anxiety, low self-esteem, suicidal thoughts, hopelessness and depression.   

While I was “saved” in 2010, I still struggled mightily with the sins of the flesh, doubts, and those negative mind states despite having a strong commitment to learn all I could about my faith and was actively attending and serving in my local church.   As I continued to seek the Lord and His will for my life, I made some progress but it wasn’t until I trusted the Lord with my addictions by going to a Christian recovery group did the real work of repentance and spiritual warfare begin.  

I don’t remember where in my journey that I read Dr. Neil Anderson’s The Bondage Breaker. It was probably after I had a year of sobriety but I refer to those days as the “white knuckling days” where I had to constantly be on guard against temptation and feared an eventual relapse.  

But in Anderson’s book, I discovered “the Steps to Freedom in Christ” which is a series of prayers, proclamations, and renunciations that guides you through a repentance process where you commit yourself to Christ and where you renounce the spiritual forces of darkness and resolve any conflicts of unconfessed sins, pride, rebellion, ancestral baggage, and the bitterness of unforgiveness.    

While I can’t say I ever thought I was “demonized” before going through the Steps to Freedom in Christ, I admit that I was at least “oppressed” by the enemy afterwards because the condemning, blasphemous, tempting dialog of mental chatter that seemed to be a part of “me” was gone! 

Anderson states that many of the Christians that He leads through the Steps to Freedom in Christ are amazed at the peace and the “silence” they experience.  And that was me.  To this day, I can stop what I am doing and just listen to the silence – of no thoughts, no condemnation, no “noise” and I know that I am still free. The Lord has not only lead me out of the darkness of the flesh but he put a stop to the mental torment that I always thought was “just me beating myself up.”   

Since then I have become trained to lead others through the Steps to Freedom in Christ I have seen the enemy face to face in others and have seen people get set free when they came to know who they are in Christ and when they used the authority that Christ gave them to walk out of the darkness.  

So if you had a bad year or a bad life, if you just can’t “believe like others do”, or if you are filled with fear or depression, let me encourage you that the “glass is full” when you make Christ your Lord and savior and when you choose to follow Him into the abundant life of freedom and victory that He has for you.  

It’s going to be a new year, so why not make it the one where overcome the struggles? With God you are never alone but we also need others to help us along the way.   So while I would first recommend becoming a part of a Bible believing church where you can worship and serve, I would also encourage your freedom by pursuing the wisdom and methods that have helped me at Freedom in Christ Ministries (www.Ficm.org). There you can find a free book “Restored” that can tell you all about the Steps to Freedom in Christ, or you can even join an online course that will guide you through the process with a trained encourager. 

The biggest lie that the enemy every told us is that somethings are just “impossible” and that somethings will “never change”, but with God you can find your freedom and discover all the “impossible” things you can accomplish with your new life in Christ.

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Well, I’m short on time this morning because I think I wrote “too much” and I had to find a “new resource” to share  so I’m taking a vacation from sharing the “Bible Verse of the Day” but I do encourage you to read the Bible every day, for yourself.

I am including a link to Ligonier Ministries: “Bible Reading Plans for 2023” ( https://www.ligonier.org/posts/bible-reading-plans?fbclid=IwAR0aVs0a31ebdwexS1-N9i-dwV5v45fVTH5zoKCHsnmCPJnDks9fY9AjWsQ) as an encouragement to read the word this year - to have a plan, if you need one, to draw close to God through His word to experience the power that He wants to unleash into your life.  

___________________________________________

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 begin sharing from A.W. Pink’s “The Sovereignty of God”

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

THE SOVEREIGNTY OF GOD

By  ARTHUR W. PINK

INTRODUCTION

Who is regulating affairs on this earth today—God, or the Devil? That God reigns supreme in Heaven is generally conceded; that He does so over this world, is almost universally denied—if not directly, then indirectly. More and more are men in their philosophizings and theorizings relegating God to the background. Take the material realm. Not only is it denied that God created everything by personal and direct action, but few believe that He has any immediate concern in regulating the works of His own hands. Everything is supposed to be ordered according to the (impersonal and abstract) “laws of Nature.” Thus is the Creator banished from His own creation. Therefore we need not be surprised that men, in their degrading conceptions, exclude Him from the realm of human affairs. Throughout Christendom, with an almost negligible exception, the theory is held that man is “a free agent,” and therefore, lord of his fortunes and the determiner of his destiny. That Satan is to be blamed for much of the evil which is in the world is freely affirmed by those who, though having so much to say about “the responsibility of man,” often deny their own responsibility, by attributing to the Devil what, in fact, proceeds from their own evil hearts (Mark 7:21–23).

But who is regulating affairs on this earth today—God, or the Devil? Attempt to take a serious and comprehensive view of the world. What a scene of confusion and chaos confronts us on every side! Sin is rampant; lawlessness abounds; evil men and seducers are waxing “worse and worse” (2 Tim. 3:13). Today, everything appears to be out of joint. Thrones are creaking and tottering, ancient dynasties are being overturned, democracies are revolting, civilization is a demonstrated failure; half of Christendom was but recently locked-together in a death grapple; and now that the titanic conflict is over, instead of the world having been made “safe for democracy,” we have discovered that democracy is very unsafe for the world. Unrest, discontent, and lawlessness are rife everywhere, and none can say how soon another great war will be set in motion. Statesmen are perplexed and staggered. Men’s hearts are “failing them for fear, and for looking after those things which are coming on the earth” (Luke 21:26). Do these things look as though God had full control?

But let us confine our attention to the religious realm. After nineteen centuries of Gospel preaching, Christ is still “despised and rejected of men.” Worse still, He (the Christ of Scripture) is proclaimed and magnified by very few. In the majority of modern pulpits He is dishonored and disowned. Despite frantic efforts to attract the crowds, the majority of the churches are being emptied rather than filled. And what of the great masses of non-church goers? In the light of Scripture we are compelled to believe that the “many” are on the Broad Road that leadeth to destruction, and that only “few” are on the Narrow Way that leadeth unto life. Many are declaring that Christianity is a failure, and despair is settling on many faces. Not a few of the Lord’s own people are bewildered, and their faith is being severely tried. And what of God? Does He see and hear? Is He impotent or indifferent? A number of those who are regarded as leaders of Christian-thought told us that God could not help the coming of the late awful War, and that He was unable to bring about its termination. It was said, and said openly, that conditions were beyond God’s control. Do these things look as though God were ruling the world?

Who is regulating affairs on this earth today—God, or the Devil? What impression is made upon the minds of those men of the world who, occasionally, attend a Gospel service? What are the conceptions formed by those who hear even those preachers who are counted as “orthodox?” Is it not that a disappointed God is the One whom Christians believe in? From what is heard from the average evangelist today, is not any serious hearer obliged to conclude that he professes to represent a God who is filled with benevolent intentions, yet unable to carry them out; that He is earnestly desirous of blessing men, but that they will not let Him? Then, must not the average hearer draw the inference that the Devil has gained the upper hand, and that God is to be pitied rather than blamed?

But does not everything seem to show that the Devil has far more to do with the affairs of earth than God has? Ah, it all depends upon whether we are walking by faith, or walking by sight. Are your thoughts, my reader, concerning this world and God’s relation to it, based upon what you see? Face this question seriously and honestly. And if you are a Christian you will, most probably, have cause to bow your head with shame and sorrow, and to acknowledge that it is so. Alas, in reality, we walk very little “by faith.” But what does “walking by faith” signify? It means that our thoughts are formed, our actions regulated, our lives moulded by the Holy Scriptures, for, “faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God” (Rom. 10:17). It is from the Word of Truth, and that alone, that we can learn what is God’s relation to this world.

Who is regulating affairs on this earth today—God or the Devil? What saith the Scriptures? Ere we consider the direct reply to this query, let it be said that the Scriptures predicted just what we now see and hear. The prophecy of Jude is in course of fulfillment. It would lead us too far astray from our present inquiry to fully amplify this assertion, but what we have particularly in mind is a sentence in verse 8—“Likewise also these dreamers defile the flesh, despise dominion and speak evil of dignities.” Yes, they “speak evil” of the Supreme Dignity, the “Only Potentate, the King of kings, and Lord of lords.” Ours is peculiarly an age of irreverence, and as the consequence, the spirit of lawlessness, which brooks no restraint and which is desirous of casting off everything which interferes with the free course of self-will, is rapidly engulfing the earth like some giant tidal wave. The members of the rising generation are the most flagrant offenders, and in the decay and disappearing of parental authority we have the certain precursor of the abolition of civic authority. Therefore, in view of the growing disrespect for human law and the refusal to “render honor to whom honor is due,” we need not be surprised that the recognition of the majesty, the authority, the sovereignty of the Almighty law-giver should recede more and more into the background, and the masses have less and less patience with those who insist upon them. And conditions will not improve; instead, the more sure Word of Prophecy makes known to us that they will grow worse and worse. Nor do we expect to be able to stem the tide—it has already risen much too high for that. All we can now hope to do is warn our fellow-saints against the spirit of the age, and thus seek to counteract its baneful influence upon them.

Who is regulating affairs on this earth today—God, or the Devil? What saith the Scriptures? If we believe their plain and positive declarations, no room is left for uncertainty. They affirm, again and again, that God is on the throne of the universe; that the sceptre is in His hands; that He is directing all things “after the counsel of His own will.” They affirm, not only that God created all things, but also that God is ruling and reigning over all the works of His hands. They affirm that God is the “Almighty,” that His will is irreversible, that He is absolute sovereign in every realm of all His vast dominions. And surely it must be so. Only two alternatives are possible: God must either rule, or be ruled; sway, or be swayed; accomplish His own will, or be thwarted by His creatures. Accepting the fact that He is the “Most High,” the only Potentate and King of kings, vested with perfect wisdom and illimitable power, and the conclusion is irresistible that He must be God in fact as well as in name.

It is in view of what we have briefly referred to above that we say, Present-day conditions call loudly for a new examination and new presentation of God’s omnipotency, God’s sufficiency, God’s sovereignty. From every pulpit in the land it needs to be thundered forth that God still lives, that God still observes, that God still reigns. Faith is now in the crucible, it is being tested by fire, and there is no fixed and sufficient resting-place for the heart and mind but in the Throne of God. What is needed now, as never before, is a full, positive, constructive setting forth of the Godhood of God. Drastic diseases call for drastic remedies. People are weary of platitudes and mere generalizations—the call is for something definite and specific. Soothing-syrup may serve for peevish children, but an iron tonic is better suited for adults, and we know of nothing which is more calculated to infuse spiritual vigor into our frames than a scriptural apprehension of the full character of God. It is written, “The people that do know their God shall be strong and do exploits” (Dan. 11:32).

Without a doubt a world-crisis is at hand, and everywhere men are alarmed. But God is not! He is never taken by surprise. It is no unexpected emergency which now confronts Him, for He is the One who “worketh all things after the counsel of His own will” (Eph. 1:11). Hence, though the world is panic-stricken, the word to the believer is, “Fear not!” “All things” are subject to His immediate control: “all things” are moving in accord with His eternal purpose, and therefore “all things” are “working together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to His purpose.” It must be so, for “of Him, and through Him, and to Him are all things” (Rom. 11:36). Yet how little is this realized today even by the people of God! Many suppose that He is little more than a far-distant Spectator, taking no immediate hand in the affairs of earth. It is true that man is endowed with power, but God is all-powerful. It is true that, speaking generally, the material world is regulated by law, but behind that law is the law-Giver and law-Administrator. Man is but the creature. God is the Creator, and endless ages before man first saw the light “the mighty God” (Isa. 9:6) existed, and ere the world was founded, made His plans; and being infinite in power and man only finite, His purpose and plan cannot be withstood or thwarted by the creatures of His own hands.[1]

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“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



[1] Arthur W. Pink, The Sovereignty of God (Swengel, PA: Bible Truth Depot, 1949), 15–19.


Saturday, October 22, 2022

Pumpkin Ale, Fat Shaming, and Demons - Purity 869

Pumpkin Ale, Fat Shaming, and Demons - Purity 869

Purity 869 10/22/2022 Purity 869 Podcast

Good morning,

Today’s photo of a stunning scene of a clear blue sky and early autumn colors reflected in the surface of what we suspect to be the fourth of the eight Fulton Chain Lakes comes to from a friend who captured this scene near their home in Inlet NY back on October 10th. They shared a few pictures that day on social media proclaiming that experiencing the autumn splendor was “food for the soul”.  

Well, It’s the Saturday before Halloween weekend, and while I encourage my friends to get out there this weekend and liberally take in all the flavors of the season, I have to recommend we use wisdom and moderation in our seasonal celebrations.  

As someone who, with the Lord’s help, has won a victory over addictive tendencies and who now attempts to continuously live by walking in the Spirit, I know the dangers of how the flesh will use seasonal celebrations to fuel its fire and cause us to be in bondage.   

For instance, the alcohol industry knows how to encourage consumption during all the seasons of the year, as the breweries and wineries will release and market various potent potables for the spring, summer, fall, and winter.  This month will tempt people to try Oktoberfest themed beers, Pumpkin Ales, and Hard and not so Hard Apple Cider beverages.  In my limited research this morning, I even saw a link that told me that there were “20 Scary Beers” from various micro and not so microbreweries that feature occult or horror themes that would be perfect for Halloween. And you might think that wine drinkers are too sophisticated for something like that but you would be wrong, there are lots of scary labelled wines available too.  I find it positively frightening because I remember how I was a slave to the booze and my addiction would use any pretense to keep the party going 24/7.  So for my friends who drink, be careful, a lifestyle of periodic or constant drunkenness is not only a risk to your physical and mental health, it also is indicated as something that can separate you from the Lord’s kingdom.

1 Corinthians 6:9-11 (NLT2) tells us
9  Don’t you realize that those who do wrong will not inherit the Kingdom of God? Don’t fool yourselves. Those who indulge in sexual sin, or who worship idols, or commit adultery, or are male prostitutes, or practice homosexuality, 10  or are thieves, or greedy people, or drunkards, or are abusive, or cheat people—none of these will inherit the Kingdom of God.
11  Some of you were once like that. But you were cleansed; you were made holy; you were made right with God by calling on the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.    

Yeah, I know those two verses hit a whole lot of people below the belt and may cause some to doubt their salvation. If that’s you, I would encourage you to repent. 

Believe me  I was a big drunk AFTER I was born again and when I read all the verses on drunkenness, I was not happy!  But as I knew the Lord had saved me and I wanted to follow Him, I followed His leading into recovery and now rejoice over my freedom over drugs, alcohol, and sexual immorality.  Yeah I took that verse literally. And now I can say I WAS like that but now I have been “cleansed; … made holy; … made right with God by calling on the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.”      

I thought it would be impossible to change from my drunken ways after living most of my adult life, from 17 to 43 years old, in the bonds of alcoholism but God was with me and led me out of that darkness for good.  I don’t identify as an “alcoholic” or a “person in long term recovery” or a brother who “struggles with alcoholism”.  The struggle is over the war has been won. The Lord gave me victory and freedom and I identify as a child of God, an ambassador for God’s kingdom and a disciple of Jesus Christ. I have been healed. I have been made new. And I ain’t going back.  

But I am not perfect and still fall into temptation on occasion.

WHAT???

Relax, I can claim, because of the Lord, continuous victory in the areas of drugs, alcohol, and sexual immorality still but I have also been fighting a war with the flesh when it comes to junk food or sugar.  

I have come to realize that our bodies are the temple of the Holy Spirit and that Christians should be good stewards of their physical health. Obesity is not good for your physical, mental, or spiritual health as the same characteristics of addiction (the cravings, seeking comfort, lack of self-control, and binging) are present in lifestyles that are food focused.  

Just like we have to be wise stewards of our bodies by not filling them with alcohol and drugs, we have to be discerning in what we eat.  

Just like the alcohol industry releases and markets seasonal potent potables, the food industry is even worse in its creation of holiday and seasonal packaging and special limited time items that cause us to “try it while we can!” with all the gusto of a beer guzzling alcoholic.  

The world system, the flesh, and the devil are insidious in tempting us to FEED the FLESH rather than walk in the Spirit.   The world system, our fellow man, like a drug dealer, does it for profit.  The enemy does it to keep us from seeking our peace and comfort from a spiritual connection with God. 

I’ve come to realize that my addictive tendencies were present in the way I ate. After reading “The Daniel Plan” I learned that food industry engineers food to make us want to crave it and in essence become addicted to it. So they recommend non processed foods that don’t have the sugar and carbs that keep us coming back for more and keep us in the constant struggle of the battle of the bulge.   

I have made some significant gains, meaning losing some pounds, because of this realization and from my efforts to be more cognizant of what I eat.  I have eliminated a lot of the sugar and carb filled foods that I used to eat and now try to follow a keto friendly lifestyle to reduce my weight and to reduce the pains that come from being too heavy. 

My father was an athlete in his youth but over time due to liberal use of alcohol and unhealthy eating his weight increased and now that he is in his seventies he is hobbled with chronic back pain, and actually has another surgery scheduled in December to try to “fix the pain”.   

While I can’t claim to have learned from all my father’s mistakes in life, I am trying to learn from this one. I see that it is unwise to carry too much weight as we age. If you have back or other pains because of your weight now, they will only be compounded as you grow older. We have to stop the madness, seek the truth of nutrition, and lean on the Lord to help us overcome this struggle.  

It's not easy. Most of the world is blind to this and as we move forward in time it looks like it is getting worse.  

In the campaign to stop bullying and stop the opposite extreme eating disorders of anorexia and bulimia, the term “fat shaming” has come on the scene.  Rather than encouraging the obese to attempt to change their unhealthy lifestyles, society now demands that we leave people alone to suffer and die under the weight of their food addictions and the rise in their mortality rate because of their obesity. 

To encourage someone to repent of their unwise living or “repent of their sin” (See 1 Corinthians 6:10-11) is now unloving.  Our society has taken the stand of the antichrist by telling us to accept our neighbors and ourselves as we are, in our broken states, rather than do what God would encourage us to do: to repent and to do what is “right”? 

IN Genesis 4:6-7 (NLT2), God said to Cain:
6  “Why are you so angry?” the LORD asked Cain. “Why do you look so dejected?
7  You will be accepted if you do what is right. But if you refuse to do what is right, then watch out! Sin is crouching at the door, eager to control you. But you must subdue it and be its master.”  

God doesn’t want us to be slaves to our flesh or any other sin that would control us.  And there are plenty of Bible verses that address the obesity thing (https://www.openbible.info/topics/obesity) to encourage a change in that area.  

So I have been fighting the good fight and avoiding sugar filled snacks, but last night as I was volunteering at a Halloween themed event for Operation Adopt a Soldier in Saratoga, as the night drew to a close, I ate some cookies and candy bars that were made available for the volunteers!

So I failed to be true to health goal.  I know its not the end of the world and that there is certainly enough grace to cover this “transgression” and may have the liberty to “treat ourselves” from time to time.  

Our failure to be perfect in our behaviors is why we need Christ. Even when we try to live a life walking in the Spirit, because the word of God is true, we will have some sin in our lives.  So when we fail, we could condemn ourselves but we shouldn’t. That’s why we needed Jesus to save us by faith and grace. We couldn’t do it on our own.  So if we stumble we should not beat ourselves up but thank God that He has accepted us even though we are far from perfect.   

But at the same token, we should realize that staying in our broken states is not where God wants us either.  While there is grace enough to cover all our sins, the Lord still calls us to be sanctified because He wants us to be more like Him and He knows that when we follow His wisdom and ways and walk in the Spirit, we will experience all the peace, joy, love, goodness, kindness, faithfulness, gentleness, patience, and self-control that He has for us.  He knows His way is the best way for us.  

Right after these fruit of the Spirit are listed in Galatians, God’s word says:  

Galatians 5:24-25 (NLT2)
24  Those who belong to Christ Jesus have nailed the passions and desires of their sinful nature to his cross and crucified them there.
25  Since we are living by the Spirit, let us follow the Spirit’s leading in every part of our lives.

In listing the fruit, I have seldom heard (or maybe didn’t listen to) pastors focus on verse 24: to crucify the flesh, our passions and desires.  

These are instructions to the church. So while we may not be perfect like Christ, we should endeavor to lean on the Lord and do what is “right” by obeying the word of God and to follow the Spirit’s leading in every part of our lives, rather than being pulled astray by the regular and seasonal pulls of the flesh.  

So be wise and discerning of how you live and be aware of the regular and seasonal temptations that will try to lead you astray.   If Keep walking and talking with God and you can make progress, because when we live in the Spirit we will not fulfill the desires of the flesh.  And if you mess up, like I did last night, just don’t give up.  

Remind yourself just how much you need the Lord and just how good He is to love and accept us regardless of our performance, and then dust yourself off and start walking in  the Spirit again.   

Instead of an “NLT Bible Promise Book for Men verse of the day, because we are in the season of Halloween, I am deciding to share an excerpt from the Freedom in Christ Ministries blog,  by Dr, Jonathan Carl  that I saw yesterday ( https://blog.ficm.org/blog/halloween-silly-and-serious) that presents some frequently asked questions that we should consider during this rather macabre season. 

Dr. Carl writes:

Here are four “frequently asked questions we should consider…:

1.    Is demonic possession real? What can a demon do to me? Can the devil or a demon make me do something I don’t want to do?

Yes, demonic possession is real. Demons can tempt, attack, and live within humans. Satan already controls everyone who is not born again with Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior. While not every unbeliever is possessed by a demon, demonically-possessed humans sometimes evidence (manifest) the presence of demons in supernaturally scary ways.

2 Corinthians 4:4 “the god of this world [Satan] has blinded the minds of the unbelievers”

2.    Can a Christian be possessed by a demon? “Demonized”? “Have” a Demon?

No. If someone truly repents from sin, treasures Jesus more than anyone or anything, and trusts in Christ’s crucifixion and resurrection, then they are saved and in-dwelt by God’s Holy Spirit (Romans 8:1-11, 1 Corinthians 3:16). A genuine believer cannot be possessed or controlled by a demon since Jesus is in them through the Holy Spirit. Believers can be tempted and deceived by demonic spirits and influences. Christians have personal responsibility for their actions, inactions, and beliefs and accordingly must “take every thought captive to obey Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:5).

 

2 Corinthians 13:5 “Examine yourselves, to see whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Or do you not realize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?—unless indeed you fail to meet the test!”

3.    Can a Christian be harassed by a demon? Oppressed? Attacked?

Yes. As one example, we know that the apostle Paul was attacked and harassed by a demon. We do not always know the specifics of why demons attack true believers. We do know that if we dependently seek God in these seasons of attack, He will strengthen and grow us (2 Corinthians 12:9-10, 1 John 4:4).

2 Corinthians 12:7 “a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger [angel] of Satan to harass me, to keep me from becoming conceited.”

 

4.    Can someone be a Christian and their life not demonstrate real change?

No. True believers always evidence a changed life through the fruit of God’s Holy Spirit (Matthew 13:19-23, Galatians 5:16-24, 1 John). Genuine Christians are not perfect but will manifest a decreasing pattern of sin and an increasing pattern of righteousness. May you be able to look backwards and see God’s progressive work on your life and look forward to how He will continue to mature you as you seek Him in spirit and truth.

1 Peter 5:8 “Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.”

Dr. Carl concludes the blog entry by writiing: “As you see scary or silly Halloween costumes, decorations, and advertisements, may you be reminded that this is not simply a pretend subject. Our spiritual state matters. Satan and his demons are on the prowl, seeking to deceive and destroy us. If you are not yet a Christian, why would you wait another day to receive Jesus as your Lord and Savior?

If you are a Christian, have confidence that God is with you and in you. Do not fear. Put on the full armor of God daily and be like Paul, seeking to “boldly proclaim the mystery of the gospel” everywhere you go. (Ephesians 6:10-20)

1 John 4:4 “Little children, you are from God and have overcome them, for he who is in you is greater than he who is in the world.”

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If you want a free resource about spiritual warfare in the early church? Summaries of some of Neil Anderson’s most important works? A Bible reading plan for 2023? Then please visit www.spiritualwarfare.blog/free-books for some of Dr. Carl’s free e-books and writings.

 

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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:

Psalm 51:17 (NLT2)
17  The sacrifice you desire is a broken spirit. You will not reject a broken and repentant heart, O God.

Today’s Bible versesdescribes our condition when we give up those myths and lies of the world and finally repent and surrender to the Lord. 

The spirit of broken man is the spirit of rebellion and self-sufficiency. We try to live independently from God and forge our own destinies, as if we could control anything in an ultimate sense.  Or we will try to please God with “good works” thinking if we just perform the right “sacrifice”, God will accept us.  

But today’s verse indicates the God desires us to submit to Him and repent. Our surrender to the Lordship of Christ not our sacrifice is the only thing that God wants or will accept.  

So remember what God desires and give Him wants by living a life that is repentant and surrendered to His will.   

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

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

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

The Sermon on the Mount

Matthew 5

On theExtraordinaryof Christian Life

Kindred

“You have heard that it was said to those of ancient times, ‘You shall not murder’; and ‘whoever murders shall be liable to judgment.’ But I say to you that if you are angry with a brother or sister, you will be liable to judgment; and if you insult a brother or sister, you will be liable to the council; and if you say, ‘You fool,’ you will be liable to the hell of fire. 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. Come to terms quickly with your accuser while you are on the way to court with him, or your accuser may hand you over to the judge, and the judge to the guard, and you will be thrown into prison. Truly I tell you, you will never get out until you have paid the last penny” [Matt. 5:21–26].

“But I say to you”—this is the way Jesus summarized everything he said about the law. After his previous words, it is obvious that Jesus is not to be understood here as a revolutionary. Nor should we assume an exchange of opinion versus opinion in the manner of rabbis.[82] Instead, Jesus expresses, continuing what he has said thus far, his unity with the law of the Mosaic covenant. But precisely in his true unity with the law of God he makes clear that he, the Son of God, is the Lord and Giver of the law. Only those who perceive the law to be the word of Christ can fulfill it. He rejected the sinful misunderstanding in which the Pharisees were caught. True knowledge of the law lies solely in knowing Christ to be the Lord and the fulfiller of the law. Christ has laid his hand on the law and claimed it. In doing so, he did what the law truly intended. But in this unity with the law he is considered an enemy by the false understanding of the law. By honoring the law, he gives himself up to the false zealots of the law.

The commandment to which Jesus first refers his disciples forbids murder and entrusts the disciples with the well-being of their brothers or sisters. The life of one’s brothers and sisters was granted by God and is in God’s hand. Only God has power over life and death. There is no place in the faith-community of God for a murderer. Murderers are liable to the judgment they themselves exercise. The protection of God’s command extends not only to brothers and sisters who belong to the church-community but beyond.[85] This is clearly shown by the fact that the actions of a follower of Jesus do not depend on the other person’s identity, but only on him whom the disciple follows in obedience. Jesus’ followers are forbidden to commit murder under penalty of divine judgment. The life of a brother or sister is a boundary for Jesus’ followers which may not be crossed. But anger already crosses that boundary. It is crossed even more by words bursting out of us in haste (Racha [insults]), and it is crossed finally when we intentionally deride someone else (you fool). Every anger attacks the life of the other person; it begrudges others their lives; it craves the other’s destruction. There is no distinction between so-called just anger and unjust anger. The disciples should not even know what anger is, because anger is an assault on God and the other person. The angry words bursting out of us, which we take so lightly, reveal that we do not respect the other person, that we view ourselves to be superior, and that we thus value our own lives more than the other’s. Such words are an injury to a sister or brother, a thrust to the heart. They are intended to strike, wound, and destroy. But intentional words of derision rob sisters and brothers of their dignity in public. They intend to make other people despise them, as well. They aim in hatred to destroy another’s internal and external existence. I pass judgment on another. That is murder. A murderer is handed over to judgment.[1]

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

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Encouragement for the Path of Christian Discipleship



[1] Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Discipleship, ed. Martin Kuske et al., trans. Barbara Green and Reinhard Krauss, vol. 4, Dietrich Bonhoeffer Works (Minneapolis, MN: Fortress Press, 2003), 120–122.