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Showing posts with label Depression. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Depression. Show all posts

Saturday, September 17, 2022

Summer Ends Sunday - Suicidal Idols - Purity 839


Summer Ends Sunday - Suicidal Idols - Purity 839

Purity 839 09/17/2022  Purity 839 Podcast

Good morning,

Today’s photo of the countryside illuminated by the light of the setting sun just off of Waite Rd in Easton comes to us from yours truly as I took some quick picks to capture the splendor of September as I took my canine companion, Harley, for a late afternoon walk yesterday.    

Well, we are past the ides of September and it is my prayer that all my friends enjoy the  last weekend of summer as the season officially will end with the Autumnal Equinox on Thursday the 22nd.   Even though the Autumnal Equinox is used to mark the season, the weather and return to school usually give us a Fall Feeling before it arrives. This year we had an abrupt shift in the weather on Labor Day weekend in the capital district of upstate New York as we experienced sunshine and a high of 81 degrees on Sunday only to crash into Labor day Monday with heavy rains and a drop to 66 degrees.   

I remember thinking on Labor Day, “Wow, there goes summer!” and then I remembered that the previous day, while out walking under the heat of the sun, I had a real sense of the urgency that summer was slipping away and I had a decision to make in terms of what to do with the rest of the day. 

I decided to spend the day with my wife indoors and have no regrets about it but after Labor Day’s storms and relative chill, I remembered that feeling during that Sunday walk that “this was it” and I poetically thought about this “prophetic” intuition with the phrase “Summer Ends Sunday”. 

And when I came up with that, I thought that the phrase “Summer Ends Sunday” would be an awesome name for an alternative band.  

We are “Summer Ends Sunday! Good Night!”   

And all of this comes flooding back into my recollections this morning because as I finished up my Bible Study and emailed myself the photo of the day from my phone I fell victim to some “click bait” on Yahoo that teased “Rocker’s wife states husband had delirium before suicide” or something like that and so I wondered who it was referring to and discovered it led to a story about a recent interview of the Vicky Cornell, the widow of the former front man of Soundgarden and Audioslave, Chris Cornell who took his life in 2017 (https://www.aol.com/chris-cornells-wife-vicky-says-201233639.html).  So it was recent interview, but not exactly recent news, on the rocker’s death.   

You can research the details on Cornell’s death if you like, but the recent interview by his widow and her comments about his “delirium” before his death coupled with the fact that he had a history of substance abuse, and was on some prescription medications ( which the family had alleged were over prescribed and caused Cornell to act erratically before his suicide) and one could easily speculate and make the case for demonic influence as a contributing factor to his death as well.   

Christ tells us in that the enemy want to kill us in:

John 10:10 (NKJV)
10  The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. …

As Christ well knew from Satan’s temptation in the wilderness.

Matthew 4:5-6 (NKJV) tells us
5  Then the devil took Him up into the holy city, set Him on the pinnacle of the temple,
6  and said to Him, "If You are the Son of God, throw Yourself down. For it is written: 'He shall give His angels charge over you,' and, 'In their hands they shall bear you up, Lest you dash your foot against a stone.' "  

So the devil takes Jesus to a high place and tells Him to jump, to tempt God with His safety, and potentially kill Himself.       

The enemy’s mission to kill and destroy us includes tempting us to suicide.   

From my volunteer work with the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention and from listening to the testimonies of survivors of suicide attempts, and the families of people who died to suicide, I know that Cornell’s widows claims of “delirium”, and surrounding factors of Cornell’s death are not unique and because of my biblical worldview, education in Christian Counseling, my training as an CFMA for Freedom in Christ Ministries, and my experience personally with addiction, depression, condemning thoughts, and thoughts of suicide, I would state that spiritual forces of darkness or the spiritual conditions in someone’s life play a part in every suicide.      

Either through direct demonic influence or simply from a worldview of hopelessness that is born out of an atheistic worldview,  people suffer and will continue to die from suicide.  

This is obviously not a popular theory to bring to the discussion of suicide prevention. Our Western Post Christian Society denies the involvement of the spirit realm in our day to day lives and seeks to silence the truth of the gospel of Jesus Christ with the confusion of “coexistence” and the proliferation of the idea that all roads lead to God.   And we suffer for it. 

The issues of mental health and suicide will continue to plague our world as we are enmeshed in a culture that refuses to offend anyone with the Biblical standards of morality, with a standard of truth that is based on the Bible,  or the solutions for negative mind states that are available through the application of Biblical wisdom to the way we live our lives.  

To state that someone is living in sin, or even to suggest that someone turn from drugs, alcohol, and sex that is outside of the bonds of marriage between a man and a woman, and to instead turn to the Lord and live according to His ways is almost laughable to our secular society or is met with stern opposition and fierce hatred that would condemn Christians as judgmental, hateful, bigots.

The world laments over it’s problems, seeks the cold comforts of better life through chemistry, and wonders why things seem to be getting worse because it refuses to accept the answer that God sent to save us all: Jesus Christ.  

So society through its rejection or separation from God, or nominal lip service to Him that says “I believe” but refuses follow Him in any discernable way is plague with the subject to the temptations and the oppression of the spiritual forces of darkness.  

Ephesians 4:26-27 (NKJV) says
26  "Be angry, and do not sin": do not let the sun go down on your wrath,
27  nor give place to the devil.
 

Our sin, and everyone sins to some extent, makes us vulnerable to the devil. 

However, Christians have ben set free

Romans 8:2 (NKJV)
2  For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death.

Faith in Christ not only gives us power over death with our eternal life in the kingdom of God guaranteed. It also gives us the power to say no to sin.  

We won’t be perfect but we can progress in our freedom and victory to the sins that beset us and if we stumble on the road to sanctification, because of our life giving relationship with God through our faith in Christ, we have a way to reestablish our harmony with Him. 

1 John 1:9 (NKJV) tells us
9  If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

And so in Christ we have an advocate and a constant source of power and peace to guide us in the way we should go and comfort us and remind us of why we need a Savior when we stray from His path.   

Our American dream culture whose philosophy is centered around circumstantial happiness fails to satisfy and provide meaning and purpose to life.  The enemy uses sins and disappointments to drive to confusion and despair and to destroy ourselves.  

As I did some research about Christ Cornell, I decided to google “grunge artists that killed themselves” and discovered that the search showed that 13 musicians from the “grunge era” of the mid 1990’s to the early 2000’s, had either died of suicide or overdoses to drugs.

The grunge movement was passionate about living life to the fullest and loving others deeply but without God to give peace the fruits it produced proved to be rotten and it’s idols proved to be suicidal.

As I was in college from 1990 to 1994, I knew most of the names and were fans of quite a few of the lost and it just reminded me that I was extremely blessed to have survived because I had been well versed in the spirit of rebellion and licentious living that surrounded the alternative music genre and the utter hopelessness that results from a lifestyle that has nothing to do and nothing to believe in other than seeking to please and affirm itself. Grunge defied and distained tradition and polite society and rejected God and biblical values and the results are talented individuals lost to drug overdoses and suicide. 

And those trends are still happening, and are on the increase in our post-Covid, increasingly confused society today.

So let me encourage myself and others out there who know the Truth that has set them free, that have been saved because of their faith in Jesus: we have the answer in Christ.  

My relationship with God through faith in Jesus took me out of the darkness of depression, suicidal thoughts, and addiction and I know I am not special.  Similar testimonies to mine are spoken of throughout the history of Christianity.   So we have to let others know the way out of the darkness and into a life of peace with God that begins here on earth and follows us into eternity.  

This world broken by sin can break your heart but in speaking of God,

Psalm 147:3 (NKJV) says
3  He heals the brokenhearted And binds up their wounds.

 

Isaiah 41:10 (NKJV)
1
0  Fear not, for I am with you; Be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, Yes, I will help you, I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.'

 

Psalm 55:22 (NKJV)
22  Cast your burden on the LORD, And He shall sustain you; He shall never permit the righteous to be moved.

 

God is close to us and when we turn to Him, He heals us and sustains us.   

 

So keep walking and talking with God and when you encounter someone who has no hope let them know that the Lord loves them but the way out of the darkness requires that they make peace with Him by making Jesus their Lord and Savior and it also requires that they abide in Him by staying in His presence and casting out the spiritual forces of darkness by confessing any sin and living a righteous life based on the word of God.   

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

This morning’s meditation verse is:

Psalm 18:28 (NLT2)
28  You light a lamp for me. The LORD, my God, lights up my darkness.

Today’s Bible verse speaks of the illuminating power of God.  

God is a lamp for all of us.  He lights up our darkness by showing us His love that was displayed and embodied in Jesus Christ and when we put our faith in Him, we benefit and share in the Light of the world. 

But as I have stated above, we have to let His light shine by living like Him. We can’t live in the darkness of sin if we are to claim to be a part of His kingdom. 

The enemy tempts us and seeks to destroy us subtly by forgetting about God’s perfect light and creating footholds in our lives though our sin or disbelief.  

So let the light of God shine in your life, Let Him light up your darkness to show you the abundant life that Christ came to give you.  

 

______________________________________________________________________

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.

                                                                      Chapter Two

The Call to Discipleship - Continued

Following Christ means taking certain steps. The first step, which responds to the call, separates the followers from their previous existence. A call to discipleship thus immediately creates a new situation. Staying in the old situation and following Christ mutually exclude each other. At first, that was quite visibly the case. The tax collector had to leave his booth and Peter his nets to follow Jesus. According to our understanding, even back then things could have been quite different. Jesus could have given the tax collector new knowledge of God and left him in his old situation. If Jesus had not been God’s Son become human, then that would have been possible. But because Jesus is the Christ, it has to be made clear from the beginning that his word is not a doctrine. Instead, it creates existence anew. The point was to really walk with Jesus. It was made clear to those he called that they only had one possibility of believing in Jesus, that of leaving everything and going with the incarnate Son of God.

The first step puts the follower into the situation of being able to believe. If people do not follow, they remain behind, then they do not learn to believe. Those called must get out of their situations, in which they cannot believe, into a situation in which faith can begin. This step has no intrinsic worth of its own; it is justified only by the community with Jesus Christ that is attained. As long as Levi sits in the tax collector’s booth and Peter at his nets, they would do their work honestly and loyally, they would have old or new knowledge about God. But if they want to learn to believe in God, they have to follow the Son of God incarnate and walk with him.

Things used to be different. Then they could live quietly in the country, unnoticed in their work, keep the law, and wait for the Messiah. But now he was there; now his call came. Now faith no longer meant keeping quiet and waiting, but going in discipleship with him. Now his call to discipleship dissolved all ties for the sake of the unique commitment to Jesus Christ. Now all bridges had to be burned and the step taken to enter into endless insecurity, in order to know what Jesus demands and what Jesus gives. Levi at his taxes could have had Jesus as a helper for all kinds of needs, but he would not have recognized him as the one Lord, into whose hand he should entrust his whole life. He would not have learned to have faith. The situation has to be initiated which will enable faith in Jesus, the incarnate God. This is the impossible situation, in which everything is based on only one thing, the word of Jesus. Peter has to get out of the boat into the waves, in order to experience his own powerlessness and the almighty power of his Lord. If he had not gotten out, he would not have learned to believe. His situation on the tempestuous sea is completely impossible and, ethically, simply irresponsible, but it has to happen for him to believe. The road to faith passes through obedience to Christ’s call. The step is required; otherwise Jesus’ call dissipates into nothing. Any intended discipleship without this step to which Jesus calls becomes deceptive enthusiasts’ illusion.

There is a great danger in telling the difference between a situation where faith is possible and where it is not. It is clear that there is nothing in the situation as such to indicate which kind it is. Only the call of Jesus Christ qualifies it as a situation where faith is possible. Second, a situation where faith is possible is never made by humans. Discipleship is not a human offer. The call alone creates the situation. Third, the value of the situation is never in itself. The call alone justifies it. Finally and most of all, the situation which enables faith can itself happen only in faith.[1]

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

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

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

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

These teachings are also available on the MT4Christ247 You Tube Channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCTxjSNstREpuGWuL0bF3U7w/featured

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

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

Encouragement for the Path of Christian Discipleship



[1] Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Discipleship, ed. Martin Kuske et al., trans. Barbara Green and Reinhard Krauss, vol. 4, Dietrich Bonhoeffer Works (Minneapolis, MN: Fortress Press, 2003), 61–63.


Thursday, August 4, 2022

The Answer for Depression and Anxiety - Purity 801


The Answer for Depression and Anxiety - Purity 801

Purity 801 08/04/2022  Purity 801 Podcast

Good morning,

Today’s photo of a path through the woods comes to us from a friend who “made a few wrong turns on the Blue Trail at Garnsey Park” in Rexford NY but got lost in its beauty and vows to absolutely go back again. And just like our friend, if we make a few wrong turns in life, we should remember the beauty we experienced in the Lord’s presence and vow to follow Him again.

Well it's Thursday again and I share a photo of a pathway as is my habit because Thursdays are the days that I encourage people to get on the path of Christian discipleship as I will be leading a men's group through Freedom in Christ Ministries’ “The Grace Course” on Zoom this evening.

As much as I experience the joy that comes from walking in the Spirit on the path of Christian discipleship, I have to admit that with the joy comes a considerable amount of pain in the terms of the compassion I have for the friends, family, and old acquaintances that I see as they struggle through life without the Lord.

A good deal of my morning this morning was spent sending a reply to a text that I had received from an old friend who was reporting that his son was depressed and feeling anxious. His son had reached out to me in the past and I had done my best to encourage him to seek the Lord and to the find the peace that comes from following the Lord, but the son failed to do what I suggested and never contacted me again.

Now months later, things have deteriorated to the point where the father is thinking about referring his son to a psychiatrist and putting him on medication. While there is certainly need for doctors and medications to help in certain situations, my familiarity with this case would lead me to state that the overwhelming problem here is that this young man does not know who he is in Christ and because of that  he does not know his self-worth or the purpose that the Lord has for his life.

Instead he isolated himself by doing things his way. He surrounded himself with the things of this world. Instead of going the way he should go, as according to the word of God, he has gone his own way and is suffering because of it.

As someone who was lost in the darkness for years and years and years, I can tell you that when you isolate and surround yourself with the things of this world, you will eventually have reasons to be depressed and to feel anxious.  The world doesn't offer any answers. It just offers temporary relief and when that relief is gone, you are left feeling empty.

They say the prophets’ curse is that you know the truth and no one listens to you.  Well I don't claim to be a prophet, but I think I have a small idea about their pain and  I can tell you I do know what happens when you decide to follow the Lord.  As much as I can encourage others, I also understand the need for a personal revelation of the Lord's goodness which only comes from seeking Him.

Our faith has to be more than just an intellectual belief or a theological understanding. Our faith has to be a deep trust in the Lord, meaning we turn to him, talk to Him, read His word, and try to align our lives with His wisdom.

When we fail to do that, we can easily doubt that God is even real. Reading the Bible, going to church, and praying can seem like cold and empty things unless we really believe that God is with us and we reach out to Him in faith to establish that connection, that personal relationship with God.

So my heart bleeds for this man, his son, and for other people who have left me or who I have left behind simply by walking forward on the path of Christian discipleship.

We say we want peace but some of us don’t want to pay the cost. 

If we want the peace of the Lord, we have to surrender to Him. That's what “Lord” means. He's the boss. We are bondservants- slaves – and God is our Good and Holy Master who loves us. We follow Him because he is powerful. We follow him because he is wise. We follow him because he knows what's best. So we have to exchange our control of our lives for His. 

Don’t get me wrong, We still have free will. We can do whatever we want. But when we decide to follow the Lord and do what He suggests in His word, which is contrary to everything we learn from the world, our families and society, we discover that God is real, that God is with us, and although it might not always be easy, we discover that His way is the only way, the best way, to live.

Our faith has to be more than theological understanding. Our faith needs to be a relationship. In a relationship we talk to the other person. We also listen. So in our relationship with God, we have to talk to Him, literally with our voices, but also through the study of His word and through the practices of the Christian faith such as going to church and praying.

We also need to make ourselves open to His suggestions to do good works. After we follow the Lord for a while we'll get intuitions to do good things. We'll get invitations to serve at church or serve in our communities or help with family and friends. These invitations to do good works are another part of our relationship with the Lord. When we answer the invitation, and actually help people which we wouldn't do on our own normally, we enter in deeper to our relationship with God.

Our relationship with the Lord is really shown in that the fact that we are shaping our lives to live the way He suggests. When we don’t do that, or step off His path, we suffer. Ask me how I know.

Even though I pray and read the Bible every day, I recently wasn't diligent in terms of what I put before my eyes and in terms of what I was putting in my mouth, in terms of food, and I suffered the consequences.

But the good news is that I saw what I was doing and I repented. Over the last several days, I have made a concerted effort to adjust my eating habits and to be discerning in terms of what I spend my time watching or focusing on. I decided to turn back to the Lord in a deeper way and I've benefited greatly already.

From last week to today, I've lost three pounds and I feel spiritually regenerated because I am being self-aware about my physical and spiritual health. My focus hasn't gone to the silly things that I was watching before. I've found my rest and my peace in the Lord instead of the things of the world and realize now my mistake and I shouldn't necessarily go back to the world when I want to “take a break and relax”. 

I get it though, life is hard but God is good!

So all I can do is encourage others to do the same as I've done. “Seek the Lord” is my one a piece of advice that will never change. But it's not my advice that will help you. The only One that will help you is the Lord and the only thing that will help you is your making the daily decision to follow Him.

So let me share Psalm 138, because if you get nothing else out of this blog or podcast today, at least I would have proven faithful  by sharing the word of God.

Psalm 138:1-8 (NKJV)
1  I will praise You with my whole heart; Before the gods I will sing praises to You.
2  I will worship toward Your holy temple, And praise Your name For Your lovingkindness and Your truth; For You have magnified Your word above all Your name.
3  In the day when I cried out, You answered me, And made me bold with strength in my soul.
4  All the kings of the earth shall praise You, O LORD, When they hear the words of Your mouth.
5  Yes, they shall sing of the ways of the LORD, For great is the glory of the LORD.
6  Though the LORD is on high, Yet He regards the lowly; But the proud He knows from afar.
7  Though I walk in the midst of trouble, You will revive me; You will stretch out Your hand Against the wrath of my enemies, And Your right hand will save me.
8  The LORD will perfect that which concerns me; Your mercy, O LORD, endures forever; Do not forsake the works of Your hands.

So praise the Lord, worship Him, and He will answer you when you cry out and He will make you bold with His strength. 

Keep walking and talking with God and you can overcome all that ails you and regardless of the difficulties or troubles of this life, when you follow Him you will have the peace that goes beyond all understanding, the peace that only comes from God, when you have peace with God, through faith in Christ alone.

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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:

 

Luke 18:27 (NLT2)
27  He replied, “What is impossible for people is possible with God.”

Today’s verse are the words of Jesus, who encourages us to trust the Lord for the impossible.  

In Neil Anderson and Timothy Warner’s book, “The Beginner’s Guide to Spiritual Warfare”, the authors state that the biggest lie the enemy tells the Christian is that something is “impossible.”  As we can see from today’s verse, the belief that something is impossible goes directly against the words of Jesus.  

But let’s be clear here, Jesus does not say that “nothing is impossible”, He says that “What is impossible for people is possible with God”.  The key here is “with God”.  So if you are not walking with God, you will discover that there are many things that are impossible.  

But let’s keep it real here too. Even if you do walk with the Lord, and we know that the Lord can do the impossible, it doesn’t necessarily mean that the Lord will grant all your impossible wishes.  

Remember, Lord means that God is the boss, and He has infinitely more knowledge and wisdom than we have, and that He has His own purposes too.  

One of the most faithful Christians was the Apostle Paul, and he confesses in one of His epistles to an affliction that he associated with the devil, a thorn in the flesh, and he prayed to have it taken away, but the Lord let it stay and advised Paul that His grace was sufficient, saying. 

2 Corinthians 12:9 (NKJV)
9  …, "My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness."

To which Paul responds by saying:

“Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.”

Although he didn’t get what he was hoping for, Paul did pray for the “impossible healing” so we should pray and work to overcome “the impossible things” in our lives too. 

The Lord may choose to do the impossible in our lives or He will give you the strength to endure impossible situations and be strengthened through them.   But either way we can rejoice that the Lord is with us and the power of Christ rests upon us. 

______________________________________________________________________

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.

11 - Spiritual Warfare

For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.”

Ephesians 6:12 is one of the best-known verses of the entire Bible, yet one of the most misunderstood, misconstrued and practically neglected texts of the Scripture. Immersed in a culture that says evil spirits do not exist, Western Christians struggle even to begin the task of spiritual warfare. We spend more time wondering if we really should believe in demons than grappling with how we should respond to them.

On this topic some of us suffer double-mindedness. Although mental assent is given to the likelihood that evil spirits exists since it is affirmed in the Bible, in reality it makes no practical difference in the way we live our day-to-day lives. When dealing with a personal problem such as illness or depression, medical and psychological services are the only considered alternatives. Little thought is given to the spiritual side. Even in Christian ministry the spiritual dimension is often ignored. Ineffective evangelism, for example, is often attributed to a lack of training or persuasive skill rather than powerful demonic hindrance.

Some segments of Christianity do take seriously demonic existence. They attempt to confront the spiritual dimension. Unfortunately the excesses of a few of these groups sometimes overshadows the healthy aspects of the teaching and practice of others. Ephesians 6:10–20 wrongly becomes a manifesto on exorcism. Or demons are seen behind virtually every problem. The rest of Christianity lamentably writes off the helpful perspective of these groups on the demonic because they appear to be extreme.

We need, more than ever, to gain a revitalized perspective on spiritual warfare. If we are not aware of the subtle and powerful work of our enemy, he will defeat us. Perhaps he already has certain areas of life strongly in his grip, where we have not been aware of his devious work.

Many thinkers believe Western society is on the verge of a major world view shift. Scholars such as Hans K√ľng are anticipating an epochal move from the “Modern Era” to a “Post-Modern Era,” a major paradigm change in the way Westerners view reality. There is no doubt that the rising influence of Eastern thought and the burgeoning impact of the New Age movement will have influence on how Western culture perceives the supernatural. The church needs to be prepared for this new challenge. Few would give the church a strong mark on its preparedness to handle effectively the special problems that arise in ministering to people who have been involved in the “occult.” The best way to determine what spiritual warfare means for us now is to discern what it meant for Paul and his readers back then. First of all, spiritual warfare needs to be understood in terms of what it meant to people living in Ephesus and western Asia Minor where occult beliefs flourished and the reality of the influence of the spirit realm was unquestioned. Second, it needs to be understood in the larger context of the entire book of Ephesians.[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), 148–149.

Thursday, April 28, 2022

The Compass to Guide You on the Path of Christian Discipleship – The Holy Spirit and our Conscience – Purity 717


 The Compass to Guide You on the Path of Christian Discipleship – The Holy Spirit and our Conscience – Purity 717

Purity 717 04/28/2022    Purity 717 Podcast

Good morning,

Today’s photo of the waters of the Colorado River under a cloudless blue sky near Boulder City Nevada comes to us from a friend who recently took an epic trip throughout the southwest which included a kayak tour of the Colorado that took him  all the way to Emerald Cove. 

Well, It’s Thursday again, and I share this photo of a river “pathway” not to encourage you to take the “yellow brick road” to an Emerald City but to encourage you to take the path less traveled by making the daily decision to walk in the Spirit on the path of Christian Discipleship.

What’s that mean? That means I encourage you to do the Lord’s will for your life that is described in His Word, the Holy Bible, which begins with making Jesus Christ your Lord and Savior and continues with the renewing of your mind with the truth of God’s Word and by applying it’s wisdom to your life, not just on Sunday, but every day,  24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year, because the value of our faith, of our relationship with God, is only truly “redeemed” when we choose to live it out continuously.

People on the outside of this Christian life, often question why anyone would want to be Christian.  They see Christianity as a set of rules and restrictions and to be a religion of repression. They are spiritual blind to the truth of God’s word that would show them that God’s commandments are put in place to protect us from the things that would harm us or that is wrong.  

I was reading Jay Adams “Competent to Counsel” yesterday and although it was written over 50 years ago, our society still hasn’t learned anything in terms of how we can have “good mental health”, how we can have peace.   Taking on Freud’s view that man’s problems are caused by too strict a conscience, Freud’s superego, and that we need to reject our conscience’s guilt and to just do what we want to be fulfilled, Adams wrote: 

If Freud’s view were correct, namely, that trouble arises whenever the Id has been repressed by an overstrict conscience or Superego, then really our day ought to be a day of widespread mental health rather than a day of unparalleled numbers of personal problems, for ours is not a day of repression, but of permissiveness.

If there was ever a time in which the lid was off, in which there was wide open rebellion against authority and responsibility, ours is that day.

And yet unprecedented numbers are in trouble.

If Freudianism is true, the most immoral people, or at best the most amoral people, should be the healthiest, whereas in fact the opposite is true.

People in mental institutions and people who come to counseling invariably are people with great moral difficulties.

“Moral difficulties” does not always mean sexual violations; that is only one aspect of it.

Immorality of every sort, irresponsibility toward God and man (i.e., the breaking of God’s commandments) is found most prominently among people with personal problems.[1]

This was 50 years ago! Do you think we have “let the lid off” anymore since then?  We are a more permissive “tolerant” society than we ever have been, and yet mental health problems have only gotten worse.  

“New research from Boston University School of Public Health reveals that the elevated rate of depression has persisted into 2021, and even worsened, climbing to 32.8 percent and affecting 1 in every 3 American adults.” (https://www.bu.edu/articles/2021/depression-rates-tripled-when-pandemic-first-hit/)

On average, adjusted for age, the annual U.S. suicide rate increased 30% between 2000 and 2020, from 10.4 to 13.5 suicides per 100,000 people. In 2018, 14.2 people per 100,000 died by suicide, the highest rate recorded in more than 30 years.  (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Suicide_in_the_United_States#:~:text=On%20average%2C%20adjusted%20for%20age,in%20more%20than%2030%20years.)

Hey guys, as our society has become more permissive morally and less “religious”,   depression and suicide rates have increased.  Letting our freak flag fly has not liberated us to the point where there is an increase in happiness and peace but the subsequent moral no man’s land of “anything goes” has caused confusion, depression, and disillusionment because people are discovering that satisfying our selfish and fleshly desires doesn’t bring satisfaction or peace.  

If we have exercised our “freedom” to do what ever we want, why isn’t society overflowing with happiness?

Well, unfortunately, people are living out the consequences of their sins.  Not only does the pleasure dissipate and negative consequences accompany the choice to sin, our consciences – our hearts- suffer because it knows, even if we deny it to everyone , including ourselves, that the way we are living isn’t right.  

We can lie to ourselves and reject the opinions of others, but our hearts were made with God’s law written on them. Our consciences are God given and it should cause us to turn from the things that are we once knew were wrong.  

As a child, I could see that getting drunk “wasn’t right”.  It made people act strange.  But through the influence of society and my own rebellion, I decided to ignore my conscience and changed my mind and suddenly what was “bad” was “good”.  

But as much as I indulged and as much as I loved my addiction to alcohol and other things, even in the midst of them, I knew these things were wrong.  My experience taught me that, but I knew in my heart that the way I lived was wrong.   I was living in “total freedom”, so where was the peace?   

Well, I’ve learned that there is no peace without God and when we think and behave in ways that our contrary to His truth, we suffer and if we are never reconciled with God through faith in Jesus Christ, our suffering never ends.   

But we know the truth. There is a God. He has revealed to us in our hearts and in His word what is right and what is wrong.  While we can deny Him and His tenants for morality, just like gravity, we are still subject to His moral laws which affect our minds, bodies, and emotions. When we separate ourselves from the One who gave us life and violate His commandments we suffer.   

But there is great news. There is hope.  Christ paid the cost on the cross so we could be forgiven of the violations we have made and when we put our faith in Him we receive a new life that gives us the power to listen to our consciences and gives us the power to overcome the sins that so easily beset us.  

When we come to faith in Christ, our hearts – our consciences, are strengthened by the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit and we receive the power to obey the Lord and walk away from the darkness of this world.  

So share the good news and keep walking and talking with God. When we are “in this thing” called Christianity, we have the power of God in us to choose what is right and holy and turn from the  things that tempt us and lead to destruction.  Instead of being hopeless in a cycle of condemnation by sinning and confessing, we can follow the “Compass”  of our Holy Spirit empowered conscience to walk out of depression, out of sin, and into the light of the new abundant life that God always wanted us to experience.     

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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 25:9 (NLT2)
9  He leads the humble in doing right, teaching them his way.

Today’s Bible verse speaks of how the Lord will lead the humble into doing what is right and how He will teach them His way.  

To believe in God and  the gospel of Jesus Christ, we must be humble.  To believe, we have to admit that there is a higher power than us, who has a holy standard for living that we have violated, and that we are powerless to make things right with Him through our own efforts. We have to be humble to ask for forgiveness. We have to be humble to make Christ our Lord and Savior.  

But when we humble ourselves before God by admitting our sins, and by asking for forgiveness, and by making Christ our Lord,  God will lift us up!

Our humble decision to trust in Christ gives us eternal life but it also gives us the opportunity to live a righteous life by receiving the power to learn God’s ways and to apply them to our lives.  

When we humble ourselves, God will lead us to do what is right. 

When we humble ourselves, He teaches us His way.  

So if things have gone astray or if you are feeling you have lost your way humble yourself by calling on the Lord and asking for His help to show you how you can do what is right. If we are humble, He will lead us and He will teach us His way.

 

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

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

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

 

The Christ-Exalting Paradoxes of Life

A life devoted to making much of Christ is costly. And the cost is both a consequence and a means of making much of him. If we do not embrace the path of joy-laden, painful love, we will waste our lives. If we do not learn with Paul the Christ-exalting paradoxes of life, we will squander our days pursuing bubbles that burst. He lived “as sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; as poor, yet making many rich; as having nothing, yet possessing everything” (2 Corinthians 6:10). The Calvary road is costly and painful, but it is not joyless.

When we embrace with joy the cost of following Christ, his worth will shine in the world. The cost itself will become a means of making Christ look great. The apostle Paul had one great passion in life. We have seen him say it several ways: to know nothing but Christ and him crucified (1 Corinthians 2:2); to boast only in the cross (Galatians 6:14).

Paul’s Single Passion in Life and Death

He talked about his great passion another way that shows us how the cost of making much of Christ is also the means. He said to the Philippian church, “It is my eager expectation and hope that I will not be at all ashamed, but that with full courage now as always Christ will be honored in my body, whether by life or by death. For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain” (Philippians 1:20–21). Here the question is raised and answered: How do you honor Christ by death? How can the cost of losing everything in this world be a means of making much of Jesus? Let’s listen carefully to Paul. Christ has called us live for his glory and to die for his glory. If we know how to die well, we will know how to live well. This text shows both.

Again we see Paul’s single passion in life—“that … Christ will be honored in my body, whether by life or by death.” If Christ is not made much of in our lives, they are wasted. We exist to make him appear in the world as what he really is—magnificent. If our life and death do not show the worth and wonder of Jesus, they are wasted. This is why Paul said that his aim in life and death was “that … Christ … be honored.”

Our Shame and Our Treasure

Notice the unusual way he makes this clear in verse 20: “It is my eager expectation and hope that I will not be at all ashamed.” Stop here just a moment. Shame is that horrible feeling of guilt or failure when you don’t measure up before people whose approval you want very much. It’s what the little child feels in the Christmas program when he forgets his lines, and the tears well up, and the silence seems eternal, and the other kids snicker brutally. I remember these horrible times. Or shame is what a president feels when the secret tapes are finally played, and the foul language and all the deceit emerges, and he stands disgraced and guilty before the people.

What then is the opposite of shame? It’s when the child remembers the lines and hears the applause. It’s when the president governs well and is reelected. The opposite of being shamed is being honored. Yes, usually. But Paul was a very unusual person. And Christians ought to be very unusual people. For Paul, the opposite of being shamed was not his being honored, but Christ’s being honored through him. “It is my eager expectation and hope that I will not be at all ashamed, but that … Christ will be honored in my body.”

What you love determines what you feel shame about. If you love for men to make much of you, you will feel shame when they don’t. But if you love for men to make much of Christ, then you will feel shame if he is belittled on your account. And Paul loved Christ more than he loved anything or anyone. “Whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord” (Philippians 3:7–8).

Whenever something is of tremendous value to you, and you cherish its beauty or power or uniqueness, you want to draw others’ attention to it and waken in them the same joy. That is why Paul’s all-consuming goal in life was for Christ to be magnified. Christ was of infinite value to Paul, and so Paul longed for others to see and savor this value. That is what it means to magnify Christ—to show the magnitude of his value.

Doesn’t Death Make Magnifying God Impossible?

But what if someone objected to Paul at this point and said, “Paul, we see how valuable Christ is to you now—how you enjoy his fellowship, how he gives you a fruitful ministry and delivers your life from spiritual shipwreck. But what will all that mean in the hour of death? Where is the value of Christ then? If being a Christian costs you your life, how will that help you make much of Christ? Won’t that rob you of the very life that can magnify him?”

So Paul adds at the end of verse 20 that his eager expectation is that “Christ will be honored in my body, whether by life or by death.” Death is a threat to the degree that it frustrates your main goals. Death is fearful to the degree that it threatens to rob you of what you treasure most. But Paul treasured Christ most, and his goal was to magnify Christ. And he saw death not as a frustration of that goal but as an occasion for its fulfillment.

Life and death! They seem like complete opposites—at great enmity with each other. But for Paul—and for all who share his faith—there is a unity, because the same great passion is fulfilled in both—namely, that Christ be magnified in this body—our bodies—whether by life or by death.

In Philippians 1:21, Paul gives a packed summary statement explaining how he is so hopeful that Christ will be magnified in his living and in his dying: “For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.” Then in verses 22–26 Paul explains both halves of this statement so we can see in more detail how Christ is magnified by life and by death.

Let’s take these one at a time.[2]

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

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Encouragement for the Path of Christian Discipleship


[1] Jay Edward Adams, Competent to Counsel: Introduction to Nouthetic Counseling (Grand Rapids, MI: Ministry Resources Library, 1986), 13.

[2] John Piper, Don’t Waste Your Life (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books, 2003), 63–66.