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Showing posts with label Deuteronomy. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Deuteronomy. Show all posts

Thursday, April 7, 2022

A Walk of Freedom and Giving Generously- Purity 699


A Walk of Freedom and Giving Generously-   Purity 699

Purity 699  04/07/2022 

Good morning,

Today’s photo of a twisting boardwalk trail that goes into the unseen distance of the wooded area on the shores of Lake Paran comes to us from yours truly as I was moved to capture a photo of a pathway while my wife and I hiked the Frost-Paran Trail in North Benington Vermont this past Saturday.   

It’s Thursday, and I am always on the look out for photos of pathways or for pathways in my daily life that I can capture because I use them as a reminder and as an encouragement to get on, or to stay on, the path of Christian Discipleship on Thursdays.   

Why Thursdays?  Well Thursday was the day that I first went to and then eventually taught at our recovery ministry, Celebrate Freedom, in 2015. So every Thursday I would encourage others to come to our recovery ministry and made it clear that Celebrate Freedom dealt with more than just substance abuse issues.

Pastor Bob Costello originally started a Celebrate Recovery ministry at Rock Solid Church but quickly discovered that what he wanted to do didn’t fit in the limits of the guidelines for a “Celebrate Recovery Ministry”. Pastor Bob wanted to teach other aspects of Christian Discipleship and to also be free of certain limitations that the “Celebrate Recovery” label came with.

So in the first few weeks of his new ministry he asked the participants to come up with a new name for the group.   Thinking of John 8:36, which says

John 8:36 (NKJV)
36  Therefore if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed.

 I suggested “Celebrate Freedom” and the name stuck.  We even came up with a design for T-shirts with the slogan “Walking in Victory” and we continued that ministry until Pastor Bob handed over the reigns of leadership to me in 2020.  



Unfortunately, Covid-19 led to reductions in participation in the recovery ministry and I decided that we needed to change our emphasis from recovery to discipleship . I had completed my Master’s degree in Christian Counseling, and became certified as a Community Freedom Ministry Associate for Freedom in Christ Ministries, so in 2021 I launched what was supposed to be “Celebrate Freedom Discipleship”  but due to a communication error and a desire to start something new, my new discipleship ministry became known as  “Community Freedom”  because it was intended to help the entire community to experience their freedom in Christ.    


Through Community Freedom I taught discipleship classes on Dr. Neil Anderson’s “Victory over the Darkness”, “The Bondage Breaker” and “Freedom in Christ”, all of which are available on the mt4christ247 podcast.  In fact, the fears over Covid 19 and the desire for some to participate in the class remotely caused me to start the mt4Christ247 podcast. 



Some wonderful things happened in 2021, including meeting my wife as she boldly travelled over an hour to attend the classes in person after listening to the podcast. 


The rest is “Christian romance history” as we were married less than a year after our first “in class” meeting on January 1st.  I entrust my wife TammyLyn to write up “our story”, get the book published, and get the movie made so we can watch it on Pureflix someday. 

Anyway another amazing thing that happened in 2021, is that I got more involved with Freedom in Christ ministries by serving at the Fall Practicum to train graduating CFMA’s.  Through that service and my work as a podcasting CFMA, I was recommended to do a Zoom version of the Freedom for Christ Course for the Northeast Region this year!   Through this medium, I got to meet some men with a real heart for the Lord and was blessed to lead several of them through the Steps to Freedom in Christ.

And tonight, I begin a brand new session of the Freedom in Christ Course on Zoom.   If you are a man and are available from 6:30 to 8:30pm on Thursday for the next 11 weeks, I invite you to join the class by reaching out to me at mt4christ247@gmail.com and I will send you the link to tonight’s Zoom meeting, or you can catch up next week if you see this too late.   

Because honestly, it is never too late to experience your freedom in Christ and enjoy a life that is defined by the fruit of the Spirit.  When we seek the Lord and start walking and talking with God, we will grow in our faith. We will know that God is alive and well and fully active in the world. If we walk with Him, we will experience the abundant life that Christ wants us to have, and our lives will be full of meaning and purpose.  

So whether you can make my Zoom meeting or not,  I encourage you to keep on, or to start, walking and talking with God because if you make Christ your Lord and Savior and commit yourself to seeking the Lord on a continual basis by living according to His wisdom and ways, you will know the peace, love, joy, goodness, faithfulness, kindness, gentleness, patience, and self-control that come when you surrender to God’s will for your life and begin walking in the Spirit.  

______________________________________________________________

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

This morning’s meditation verse is :

Deuteronomy 15:10 (NLT2)
10  Give generously to the poor, not grudgingly, for the LORD your God will bless you in everything you do.

Today’s Bible verse encourages us to give to the poor with the promise that the Lord will bless us in everything we do.  

In America, where just about all of us have been impacted by the 1930’s Great Depression through our ancestors who went before us, and by other times of financial inflation or recession, giving anything to anyone other than friends or family can be counter intuitive.  But the Lord calls us to be generous to the poor with the implied promise of blessings if we obey.  

Giving didn’t always come naturally to me and in my days before becoming a Christian, I believed that giving would give me “good karma”.  So I gave to charities at times, but it was with the expectation that I would receive some benefit for it.  

Unfortunately in Christian circles, the prosperity gospel has similarly encouraged people to give to ministries with the promise that those who “sowed a seed” or “paid a tithe” would eventually be repaid more than they ever gave.  Somehow the money “seed” would grow, and you would actually gain your cash back and then some.      

While today’s verse encourages us that we will be blessed in everything we do when we give generously, not grudgingly, to the poor, the verse doesn’t make the outlandish claims for financial payback and riches beyond our wildest dreams that prosperity gospel preachers make.  

First, those “prosperity preachers” are not poor. They are not struggling to make ends meet and some are not shy in demonstrating how they have been blessed financially.  So giving to them, may not bless you in everything you do.  

Likewise while we should support our local churches with our tithes and offerings, and service,  we should never expect to be paid back for our giving to them either.    

When we give to ministries, we invest in the work of the Lord, and we should not expect a personal financial benefit for our generosity but should be content with the knowledge that we are supporting someone who is sharing the gospel and attempting to do good works for the people in the local church and the local community.     

The blessings that we receive from giving generously are the knowledge that we are being obedient to the Lord and that we are trying to help others. 

Personally, I haven’t always given to the church or given to charities, and have struggled with money at times.  But when I have given I never regretted it. 

I think that we all must personally decided what we are able to give “not grudgingly” to poor and to the Lord’s work. The Lord doesn’t want us to go into debt by giving when we can’t support ourselves. 

Romans 13:8 (NKJV) says
8  Owe no one anything except to love one another, for he who loves another has fulfilled the law.

So, if you are in debt, you may be the “poor” one you need to give to!  So we should seek to get out of debt and live wisely financially so we can give to others “not grudgingly”.

But if we really want to be obedient to this injunction we should really endeavor to live within our means.  I am highly convicted lately to right my ship financially so I can give without going further into debt. 

I have tithed and given to the local church at times, and I have given to disaster relief efforts. I have collected for the Salvation Army during the Christmas season in the past and I have been sponsoring a child in Haiti through World Vision for several years (www.worldvision.org).   I never regretted giving and always felt I have been blessed by it, but I recognize that I need to change the way I spend so that my giving isn’t just a band-aid to cover the guilt of my life of excess.   

So be wise and discerning and go to the Lord about what to do with your money. Honor Him and submit to His will for your life.  Remember that the whole counsel of God has a lot to say about how we should live, and we should consider it all with how we live our lives. 

God wants us to give Him our hearts more than anything so makes sure you give that first, generously, and not grudgingly, to the Lord and He will be sure to bless you in everything you do, and He will guide you in how to live in His acceptable, good, and perfect will for your life. 

The Christian life is not about instant perfection, and we may need to take small steps before moving into the Lord’s perfect will for our lives. So give yourself a break but let’s be real and start moving toward a financial balance that allows us to bless others with our giving.

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 June Hunt’s Overeating: Freedom from Food Fixation.  

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

I. How to Customize Self-Care to Help Conquer Bingeing

Along with taking advantage of therapy options, practicing self-care gives you a greater sense of control over your choices and a sense of personal responsibility for your ultimate success. Since control issues are often related to binge eating, exercising control in a positive, productive way is critical to and commensurate with overall good health. By developing a healthy eating plan and persevering with that plan, you can accomplish what is God’s best for your physical body.…

“So do not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded. You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised.”

(Hebrews 10:35–36)

You can customize your own self-care treatment from these suggestions for conquering binge eating.

Self-Care Steps

•     Don’t diet … unless supervised by a professional dietitian, nutritionist, and/or medical doctor.

•     Don’t eat when bored … but engage in some other activity that will distract your thoughts away from food.

•     Don’t eat just to eat … but eat foods containing essential vitamins, minerals, and nutrients.

•     Don’t sacrifice your sleep … but try taking quick power naps and getting a good night’s sleep so that your body will shed fat sooner.

•     Don’t withdraw from others … but reach out and share your specific struggles and strengths with trusted individuals.

•     Don’t store food … but buy only what you need for a specified period of time.

•     Don’t skip therapy … but work your plan and stay accountable to yourself and others.

•     Don’t toy with temptation … but pledge to never shop when you are hungry, upset, frustrated, lonely, or feeling down so that you will make good choices when you do shop.

•     Do exercise … in appropriate ways, for reasonable lengths of time, and with another person.

•     Do test your hunger … to determine if you are hungry for food or for love.

•     Do love yourself … not by eating whatever you want, but by engaging in activities that are fun, relaxing, and energizing.

•     Do be kind to yourself … by rejecting critical, accusatory, and demeaning self-talk and by clinging to your identity in Christ. You have been made a child of God and His Spirit is within you, conforming you to His character.

•     Do eat breakfast … so that you will not feel the need to consume a lot of calories during the day.

•     Do learn your eating triggers … and develop a plan of action to counter them.

•     Do keep a record … of the times you eat, what and how much you eat, and your emotional state when you eat in order to identity your eating patterns and triggers.

•     Do snack smart … by eating low-fat, low-calorie snacks like fruit or vegetables with a fat-free dip.

Should you engage in emotional eating, quickly accept God’s forgiveness, forgive yourself, and then start anew. Learn from the experience by identifying what triggered your emotional need to eat and devising a plan as to what you will do differently in the future. Rather than dwelling on your failure, focus on the successes you are having when you replace your unhealthy eating patterns with healthy ones. Thank God for the good work He is doing within you, and cooperate with Him by leaning on Him and drawing on His resources.…

“No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.”

(1 Corinthians 10:13)

As you customize your own self-care program, continuously cling to Jesus, your constant companion, counselor, and comfort … your refuge, strength, and ever-present help in times of trouble.…

“God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.”

(Psalm 46:1)[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] June Hunt, Biblical Counseling Keys on Overeating: Freedom from Food Fixation (Dallas, TX: Hope For The Heart, 2008), 38–39.

Saturday, January 22, 2022

Christian Paradoxes - A Time for Wonder – Taking Control and Surrendering - Purity 635


Christian Paradoxes - A Time for Wonder – Taking Control and Surrendering  - Purity 635

Purity 635 01/22/2022  Purity 635 Podcast

Good morning,

Today’s photo of a blazing sunset nestled between a cover of clouds and a tree line fading into darkness comes to us from the love of my life as she was returning home from work on January 15th and had presence of mind to capture this blazing example of God’s creative beauty.  Shortly after she became a student of my discipleship classes, TammyLyn started to get up earlier than usual to pray and to take walks at sunrise.  Her eyes were opened to the presence of God in her life in a way they hadn’t been before and just like this sunset her spirit’s soared above the darkness of her past and suddenly she was experiencing a life of wonder and she began sharing photos like this one and encouraging posts on Facebook.   

Well it’s Saturday and for most of us, not me, it is a day of recreation and rest.  The temperatures in upstate New York are going to be cold but there is supposed to be some sun.  Sometimes life can be a paradox – something that is seeming contradiction but can somehow be true. So today you could be freezing your hindquarters off out in the elements and be roasted by greenhouse like conditions in your heated car. 

While some of us may be perfectly content nestled in our homes and will love the cold as an excuse to not go anywhere, others may be suffering from cabin fever and a seasonal depression.  I know some people who are in the latter category, and they are not quite their regular selves.  

To those friends, I encourage you to go out and take a drive, do some winter sports, or do some other indoor activity.  You can enjoy the sights of a sunny January day and never leave the warm confines of your car, or I suggest going to a mall, a museum, or some other venue outside your home where you can engage your body, mind, and spirit to proactively get out of the cabin fever funk.  There is bowling, roller skating, gyms, and mall walking as options to move the body.  There are movie theaters, libraries, and museums to engage the mind.  

And with whatever you pick, I suggest you bring God along for the day and just thank Him for your ability to change your circumstances with intentional thoughts and actions.  God cares for you and wants you to know the abundant life that comes from living in His presence.

I am a huge fan of the singer, Malik Harris, and in one of his songs he sings about being proactive to rediscover the wonder of life. His song, “Time for Wonder” says: 

And I know
Yes I know
I gotta get up
When feeling low
But I just hope
That there's somebody to wake me up
'Cause I been calling

  (Chorus) I'm tired of hoping things get better

I'm tired of hoping things will change
It's time for wonder
It's time for wonder, yeah

That chorus repeats and then it says: 

“It's time for me to take control
It's time for me to break the walls
It's time for me to take it on
And make you watch out for me

(https://genius.com/Malik-harris-time-for-wonder-lyrics) 

I have a Christian worldview and I know that God is in control, but we have a choice to decide to live with Him or not. We can choose to forsake the world system and live continuously in the fruit of the Spirit when we decide to live with and for God.  

As the song says, if we’ve been calling and hoping  that there’s “somebody to wake me up” we have to decide to “take control… and break down the walls” because it is time to “take it on and make” God watch out for us, by surrendering to His wisdom and ways to discover the abundant life that He calls us to. It’s “time for wonder”! 

The question is:  will you take control? Will you break down the walls by surrendering and coming under the protection and authority of the only One who can make things better, of the only One who can make things change? 

To my friends who are feeling “Blah!”, or who are hoping things get better, or that things will change, I encourage you to seek the Lord and follow Him.

When you walk and talk with God as a continually practice, you can discover the wonder of life that surrounds us even on days where the blazing sun is challenged by icy temperatures. Receiving power when you surrender and taking control by coming under the authority of a Higher Power is just another paradox of our Christian faith, one of those things that seem like a contradiction but can be true. The word of God encourages these things and even though these ideas can challenge you, God’s word can be trusted to be true.       

 

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

This morning’s meditation verse is:

Deuteronomy 31:6 (NLT2)
6  So be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid and do not panic before them. For the LORD your God will personally go ahead of you. He will neither fail you nor abandon you.”  

Today’s verse encourages us to be strong and courageous and assures us that the Lord will prepare things for us and protect us.   

This verse speaks to the nation of Israel and encourages them to go into Canaan to take possession of the promised land, a daunting task but God’s encouragement was backed up by their previous victories and His miraculous provisions. God was to be trusted and He encouraged the nation of Israel to trust Him again.   

So that’s the context, and some scholars would say that this verse isn’t necessarily to be used to encourage us as Christians today but while I could see their point I would disagree and say the principles behind today’s verse endure for all generations of those who follow the Lord.  

While we can’t use this verse and expect that everything we try will be blessed by success, we can find hope and encouragement in the facts that God does go before us (He is over and above all time and space after all) and that He will never abandon us or fail us because through Christ we have a new and eternal life that keeps us in His presence forever.      

I think today’s verse is a fitting compliment for my encouragement to “take control” by surrendering to the Lord’s way of living, to choose to live a lifestyle of Christian discipleship.   The pathway of Christian discipleship is counter intuitive to the world’s ways and when we pursue it we will face opposition so we will need to be strong in courageous and trust that the Lord will go before us and never abandon us or fail us when we seek His will and purpose for our lives.   

So be strong and courageous and represent God’s kingdom by answering the call to a life of Christian discipleship.  When you surrender to the Lord and walk by faith in the power of the Holy Spirit you will not only experience the fruit of the Spirit you will also be able to know beyond a shadow of a doubt that the promises of God in the Bible like today’s verse really are true for people today, like me and 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 to share from Dr. Neil Anderson’s . “Restored: Experience Life with Jesus”. Today, we continue sharing from Chapter 5.   

As always, I share this information for educational purposes and encourage all to purchase Dr. Neil Anderson’s books for your own private study and to support his work.

THE MEANING OF SUBMISSION

Because of abusive authority and legalistic teaching, the term submission has a negative connotation for many people. To them, a submissive person is a doormat who never questions those in authority. Some accept the doormat role and identity, while others deeply resent all authority figures, including God. But God is not like the abusive authority figures they have known. He has our best interests at heart. Submitting to His will and His way is the only means by which we can have any sense of social order. Little would be accomplished in our marriages, families, churches, businesses, and governments without some authoritative structure. When none exists, there can only be anarchy. The authority of God provides for the peaceful coexistence of His people, who are called to live and work together.

The Apostle Paul instructs wives to be submissive to their husbands, and then he says that we are all (both men and women) to “be subject to one another in the fear of Christ.”107 This means that all Christians are to be willing to cooperate in their relationships under God given authority structures. Everybody is under the authority of somebody or something, and we are all subject to the needs of one another, because we are all called to love one another.

SUBMISSION, REBELLION, AND THE SEARCH FOR SIGNIFICANCE

What do Paul and Peter mean when they teach that wives are to be submissive to their husbands?108 Why do some women rebel against the idea of submission? Why do some men abuse the authority God has given them in the home? Why do Peter and Paul remind men of their responsibility to lovingly meet the needs of their wives?109 These are critical questions that we all encounter when treading into the minefield of role relationships in marriage. Much of the confusion and virtually all of the emotional energy that fuels the debate comes from buying into a wrong view of the source of our identities and significance. People tend to get their identities from the things they do and their significance from their positions and titles. They wrongly conclude appearance, performance, and status equals significance.

Our identities are not determined by what we do; they are determined by who we are in Christ. It is not what we do that determines who we are; it is who we are that determines what we do. Before coming to Christ, we did get our identities from our natural heritage, professional work, and social status. But now that we are in Christ, “There is neither Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian and Scythian, slave and freeman, but Christ is all, and in all,”110 and “neither male nor female.”111 These passages do not eradicate social roles or eliminate authoritative structure. It clearly teaches that our essential identities are found in Christ, and we are to live out our roles in life as children of God.

Our significance is not determined by our worldly positions and possessions, but by our position in Christ and the riches we possess in Him. When the mother of the sons of Zebedee was trying to get her sons seated next to Christ, our Lord used the occasion to instruct us concerning positions of ministry. “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great men exercise authority over them. It is not so among you, but whoever wishes to become great among you shall be your servant, and whoever wishes to be first among you shall be your slave.”112 Every leader is subject to the needs of those who serve under him. Headship in the home is not a right to be demanded; it is an awesome responsibility, and the same holds for any role of social responsibility.

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

Join our “Victory over the Darkness” or “The Bondage Breaker” 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. 

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

Saturday, December 11, 2021

From Guatemala to Oxford Michigan– A Small World and a Loving Father - Purity 599

From Guatemala to Oxford Michigan– A Small World and a Loving Father -  Purity 599

Purity 599 12/11/2021  Purity 599 Podcast

Good morning,

Today’s photo of a full moon over an orphanage in Zacapa Guatemala, comes to us yours truly as I have once again felt led to grab a photo from the archives to coincide with this morning’s message.  This photo comes from a vacation mission trip that I went on in 2019. Our mission trip in Guatemala was to share the hope of Jesus Christ, to perform some maintenance work around the orphanage in Zacapa, to level and lay the foundation for a church in the mountains near Jocotan, and to install ovens that would be used in food preparation and providing heat in some of the mountain villager’s homes.  It was a challenging but rewarding trip. 

While I was there I happened to make the acquaintance of a fellow American, named Keegan Everett, who was serving at the orphanage for several months.  Unlike myself who went to Guatemala as part of a team of 30 or so,  Keegan had answered the Lord’s call to the mission field of Guatemala solo.  I don’t know about you but when I was in my early twenties I was far from the Lord, and I it find it simply amazing that a young man like Keegan from the States would be completely surrendered to the Lord’s service.  Keegan’s faith was for real.  His example is an encouragement for all of us.  

Keegan’s mission to encourage people to follow the Lord didn’t stop when he eventually returned to the States to settle in Venice Florida.  We’re friends on FB and I see that he, like myself, uses social media to point to God and to the hope and the new life that is found in Jesus Christ.  

This morning I happened to see the following post about being “real” emotionally as Christians from Keegan and I advised him that I simply had to share it on my blog and podcast because I felt “the Lord had need of it” and that people could benefit from its message. Keegan Everett writes:  

“Christians are not called to be pessimists, for then they would not be able to rejoice with those who rejoice or be able to enjoy the great glories of God.

Neither are Christians called to be optimists, for then they would have to lie to themselves about their own real griefs and they would not be able to weep with those who weep. Rather Christians are meant to be realists in the most true sense.

This is because our first reality, and in fact the truest reality, is the Word Who says I Am Who I Am.

Why do all things exist? Because of the eternal self-existent, self-sufficient One. “I Am”

He is never without hope, joy, peace, and self-sufficiency, nor is He ever a liar to His emotions, which reflect and perfectly align with Who He is and His perfect Will.

So if we dwell in the reality of Him, then we can really, truly be sad about the things which grieve His heart, and we can likewise really rejoice in all that is good and pure and holy.

We don’t have to rain on people’s parades who are grieving, but in love can sit in the sadness they are dealing with, weeping beside them. Yet in the same day we can be fully rejoicing because of the great hope in which we dwell. Not a shakable or indefinite one, but a sure and unchangeable all powerful hope that cannot be defeated.

Therefore we Christians can be the most real with our emotions, truly weeping and rejoicing, we don’t have to be sorry about it or change our emotions as to hide from others.

We get to be the most real because we dwell in reality: the reality that is the great “I AM.”

He who dwells in unapproachable light and yet is perfectly revealed in the personal savior, Jesus Christ. All things were made through this baby born on Christmas Day, and all things were made for Him.

If the God of heaven is so untouchable, and yet so personal and touchable at the same time—what a paradox—then we really can be real with ourselves and others, because the untouchable God knows us, and likewise weeps and rejoices personally with us, touching and healing our hearts. And we know, He is working out all things for good for those who love Him and are called according to His purpose.

He wastes nothing in all creation, no evil shall be left unturned or able to taint or defeat what He brings about. For our joy and His glory. All things bow to YHWH. He shall even, in finality, wipe away our tears.

And yet He already does now through His comforting Holy Spirit, and He collects each one of those tears in a bottle as a sign, and a proclamation, of how much He cares and loves His people.

A day is coming when He will show us how He has kept watch over all our pains and sufferings, how He has dwelled beside us, went through it with us, and wasted none of it.” 

- Keegan Everett

Keegan’s words of encouragement speak the truth of the Lord’s presence and care of us and how we can represent Him. 

As I thought about meeting Keegan in Guatemala in 2019, I tried to remember where it was in the States that Keegan had come from.  I knew he lived in Florida now but that wasn’t where he was coming from when I met him in 2019.  So this morning I looked at his profile and remembered that Keegan hailed from the Midwest, Michigan. Oxford Michigan.    

As someone who tries to limit the influence of the world by not watching the news, I’m not always up on things. However, significant events will come across my radar.

If Oxford Michigan sounds familiar, it is because on November 30th of this year there was a mass shooting that occurred at Oxford High School. Four students were killed and seven people were injured, including a teacher.

In the wake of the shooting,  \former Oxford Michigan resident, Keegan Everett posted the following:

“Pray for my hometown’s high school and the trauma that families are going through. There was a shooting today with about 8 injured and 4 killed.

Pray that God would use this situation to direct folks’ eyes to Him and His goodness, that they might have peace in Him even in the midst of the horrible situation.”

In our mad, mad world where our hurt and isolation can explode into random acts of violence, we need to find the peace that the Lord wants us to have that is provided through His Son, Jesus Christ.  

Keegan and I know that the Lord’s presence is a present, everyday reality that give us hope, peace and purpose. 

I wasn’t sure what I was going to write today and figured that “borrowing” Keegan’s post was just going to be a nice way of “mailing it in” on a Saturday morning.  

But the Holy Spirit leads us into all truth and directs us to keep looking and I have no doubt that the Holy Spirit directed me to see Keegan’s message this morning and to see that a larger picture, that included a mass shooting, was in play here.  

It’s the Christmas season, where we speak of peace on earth and good will to men, and  I believe that the Lord brought this latest shooting to my attention again to let people know that He is not some distant God who doesn’t care about what happens in this world. 

When horrible things like this happen, a search for answers, and where to place blame or responsibility, begins.  Ultimately, regardless of influences and other surrounding circumstances, the shooter is the one to blame and the one who is responsible.  We will all be judged for the things we do, and only if we are in a covenant relationship with God through faith in Jesus Christ will we be forgiven.

But the search for answers, in all things, must lead us back to God. The evil that men do is in direct opposition to the Lord’s will for our lives.  He sent the Prince of Peace, Jesus Christ, so that we would have peace with God and with each other.   No measures that man can institute will give us the security and peace that God provides in Jesus Christ.

So as we draw closer to Christmas, share the love of God that brings peace, hope, and a new life. We can’t change the past, but we can learn from it, and we can use today to let people know that above all the chaos of this world there is a God who is good, who offers us peace, and who will eventually repay the evil that was done and will make all things right.  

Today’s Bible verse is drawn from “The NLT Bible Promise Book for Men”.  

This morning’s meditation verses are:

 Deuteronomy 11:18-21 (NKJV)

18  "Therefore you shall lay up these words of mine in your heart and in your soul, and bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes.
19  You shall teach them to your children, speaking of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up.
20  And you shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates,
21  that your days and the days of your children may be multiplied in the land of which the LORD swore to your fathers to give them, like the days of the heavens above the earth.

 

Today’s verses remind us of the primacy that the Word of the Lord is to play in our lives and of the benefits that come from following His counsel.  

Today’s verses tell us that we are not only supposed to read the word of God, they indicate that we are to really absorb it into our hearts and our souls. That goes beyond just knowing what the word says intellectually.  That points to us knowing it intellectually, emotionally, and experientially.  This level of engagement with the word of God indicates that we know that the word of God is true, and that because it is the truth sent from God above, it simply must be believed and applied to our lives.  If we fail to agree with and to follow the Word of God, we are foolishly in rebellion to the good counsel that the Lord wants us to know. 

Lukewarm or Nominal “Christians” will sometimes warn people to “not get too carried away” with the study of the word of God, but scripture, that comes from God, doesn’t teach that.  

These passages state that we are to absorb the word, talk about the word day and night, teach the word to our children, and to decorate our homes with sayings from the word.  

So while we should be balanced and wise in our approach to living out our faith, we really can not be “too extreme” in our study of the word of God.  

The word of God is said to be a lamp to our feet and a light to our path. It teaches us all about Jesus and is good for us. 

2 Timothy 3:16-17 (NLT2)
16  All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right.
17  God uses it to prepare and equip his people to do every good work.

The word of God prepares us to do His will on earth and, as today’s verses indicate, when we give the primacy to the word of God that it deserves, our days and the days of our children will be multiplied. 

God wants us to know, and live according to, His word and when we do that these verses indicate that we will prosper and that we will fulfill the purpose that the Lord has for us. 

So keep walking and talking with God.  When we do that, His word comes into our hearts and flows out our lives to share the love of the Lord everywhere we go.

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

 

Today we continue sharing from A.W. Tozer’s Advent Devotional – From Heaven,  for Day 15, as this current resource series will lead us to Christmas Eve.

 

As always, I share this information for educational purposes and encourage all to purchase A.W. Tozer’s books for your own private study and to support his work.

DAY 15

THE GLORY OF CHRIST

We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father …

JOHN 1:14

I hear sermons on the radio sometimes that make the physical body everything, and works of miracle everything, and I wish that I could go along with such interpretations and say that the glory of Jesus Christ lay in His ability to cast out devils, heal the sick, raise the dead, and still the waves. Now undoubtedly that was wonderful, and He did get some praise to Himself from these necessary miracles. But I believe that there was a greater glory than merely works of wonder, which our Lord manifested there.

For always remember this friends, that who a man is is always more important to God than what he does. Remember that if a man were able to stand up and create pine trees and lakes and hills, but were not a good man, he would still be of no value to God. And let us remember that if a man were a good man, through and through a good man, and had no power at all to do any miracle, he would still be one of the sweetest treasures of God, and God would write his name on His own hands. For it is goodness that God is looking for; it is being and character and personality that God is looking for, not the ability to do amazing things.

So it was who Jesus was that was glorious, not only what He did. In fact, what He did was secondary; who He was was primary. So Jesus Christ’s glory lay in the fact that He was perfect love in a loveless world, that He was purity in an impure world, that He was meekness in a harsh and quarrelsome world, that He evinced humility in a world where every man was seeking his own place, that He showed boundless, fathomless mercy in a hard and cruel world, that He evinced selfless goodness in a world full of selfishness. It was the deathless devotion of Jesus—and the patient suffering and the unquenchable life and the grace and the truth—that they beheld.

They beheld His glory, the glory of the only begotten Son from the Father, full of grace and truth. And so it was this that made Jesus wonderful. As little as the poor, blind world knows about it today in all its wild, money-inspired and profit-inspired celebrations, it is not celebrating turning water into wine. It is not celebrating healing the sick or raising the dead. It is not celebrating the cursing of fig trees or the sticking on of cut-off ears. The poor, blind world with what little bit of religious instinct it has left in it yet, is this season celebrating who He was.

Tozer, A. W. (2016). From heaven: a 28-day advent devotional. Chicago, IL: Moody Publishers.

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

 

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Encouragement for the Path of Christian Discipleship