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

Monday, December 25, 2023

Ghosted in Christmas Present – Merry Christmas! - Purity 1230


Ghosted in Christmas Present – Merry Christmas! - Purity 1230

Purity 1230 12/25/2023 Puity 1230 Podcast

Purity 1230 on YouTube: 



Good morning,

Today’s photo of my canine friend, Harley, with eyes fixed on something in the distance, or pretending he never knew me, as the sun lights up the sky and tries to hide behind a power tower comes to us from yours truly as I captured this scene at the place were “Freedom” and Waite Road meet while out walking Friday afternoon.  

Well, Its This is Christmas, and if you had a similar experience to the one I had yesterday you may be wondering “What have I done?” as another year (almost) over and a new one’s (almost begun).  SO

 Okay that was an attempt to harness John Lennon’s “Happy Christmas” cadence as a I try to make light of something that happened at the Christmas Eve service at my local church yesterday.   Oh, by the way – to keep the John and Yoko classic rolling – have a

Very Merry Christmas, And a happy New Year

Let’s Hope it’s a good one.

Without any fear….. 

Fear? What’s there to be afraid of at Christmas Time?  Well, Ebenezer Scrooge would tell you that there are Ghosts to be aware of. And I would tell you that if you’re in recovery, there are demons and “spirits” of the past – that will attempt to pull you into relapse – that you may have to ward off.  Full confession – I took a two day “break” from sanity and my food plan – and will celebrate Christmas today – making wise food choices and drinking lots of water to flush out all the sugar I put into my body over the last 48 hours. But as frightening as a relapse can be, if it doesn’t kill you (not a joke), there is always a new day to ask the Lord for forgiveness and strength and to start again.  

With the food addiction, my body will be back “in the zone” in a few days and as long as I don’t get trapped in a vicious cycle of temptation and “giving in”, I will be back on the road to increased health and physical fitness in no time, and I will be armed with another reminder of just how unsatisfying giving into the things that tempt you can be.  

With recovery from substance abuse (drugs, drinking, or food) and/or sex addiction, one often arrives to a moment of clarity where the addict clearly sees the “emptiness” of the object of their obsession where you can see that there is nothing in and of the object of your addiction itself that has anything of substance or lasting satisfaction – where you realize that the thing that has kept you in chains is almost ethereal, or ghost like  in how it's effects can give you pleasure and then just fade away – where you realize there is “nothing to it”.   That moment of clarity is a good moment to have because can gain an insight to the mirage like quality of how you have been deceived and believed the lie that there was something inherently “good” about the object of your addiction and now you can renounce the lies that you believed and hopefully, not forget and get lured into them again.   Over the last two days, I was reminded of how sugar and carb laden foods really aren’t “good food” – they really aren’t and now will choose to put that insight into practice and feel my body slowly recover from the “heaviness” those foods put on me.  

Okay, with all that said about relapse and recovery, one may think that I may have been tempted to relapse at my church with sweet treats or something, and even though that has happened before, it wasn’t the disturbing thing that happened to me yesterday that has me reminded me of the big stigma you get when you walk through life with the “recovery” label.  

While I have seen the fear and awkwardness in the eyes of some of my Christian brothers and sisters, when they come to realize that I’m “one of those” Christians – a prodigal or a former “carnal” Christian or a “man with a past” or “brokenness”, I am still somewhat taken aback when I encounter someone whose demeanor towards me changes when they realize I am in recovery but I was really quite shocked yesterday, when I was “ghosted in Christmas present” by someone who I have been encouraging to come out of the darkness of addiction themselves.  

While waiting to go into the Christmas Eve service yesterday, I saw someone I knew from one of “the rooms” as people in AA say,  and gave a quick “Hey _______.” to which they didn’t respond – as they averted their eyes, looked off into the distance and said something like “ Hey what’s over here?” to the person they were walking with as they walked off without responding to my nonchalant greeting.   

Ghosted on Christmas Eve by someone who I have tried to help? It couldn’t be. Could it?  As awkward as these little interactions can be – whether you’ve been blown off or are the one blowing someone off – trying to avoid them, you know that often you get a “second pass” – that somehow you end up encountering the person again!  And sure enough, as I stood waiting to be let in the church service, because of the bustling crowd, the person who had “walked on by” ended up being pushed in my direction once again, and while I didn’t try to greet them the second time, the second pass made it painfully obvious to me, that they were indeed avoiding me! “Ghosted” again!

Anyway no big deal, there is a stigma to recovery and the person may have been under the impression that I am known for running the recovery ministry group – which I am probably kidding myself but… I don’t think I am – not in our big church, right? – and they didn’t want to be associated with me to keep their addiction a secret… or perhaps more likely, because I haven’t seen them in a few weeks, they may be in the midst of a holiday recovery hiatus that is a little more illicit that eggnog, candy, and cookies.  They may have “walked on by” because they have fallen into their addiction again and were convicted by my mere presence.    I have seen it before and if I was a gambling man, like I used to be, I would put some money down and make a wager that more than social embarrassment, my “friend” avoided me because they are back to hiding in the shadows.  

Everything’s fine, nothing to see here.  I don’t need recovery. Thanks, move along please, move along. 

Well, he moved along, and I will too and will wonder if I will see them in the rooms again after the holiday hoopla is gone and the new year begins.   I hope they do come back because I know about those shadows and life is so much better living in the light.  

So as we enjoy the BIG holiday today, it is my prayer that all my friends have a safe, sensible, and self-controlled Christmas and that you thank God for all the gifts you have received and find some peace and rest knowing that Christ has given you a new and eternal life that gets better the close you get to Him.  

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

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

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

This morning’s meditation verses come from the section on Comfort.

Deuteronomy 32:10-12 (NKJV)
10  "He found him in a desert land And in the wasteland, a howling wilderness; He encircled him, He instructed him, He kept him as the apple of His eye.
11  As an eagle stirs up its nest, Hovers over its young, Spreading out its wings, taking them up, Carrying them on its wings,
12  So the LORD alone led him, And there was no foreign god with him.

Today’s verses fall under the second point of our counseling reference guide resource’s section on Comfort.

2. As an eagle stirs up its nest and hovers over its young, so God cares for his own.

Today’s verses come from the Song of Moses, where he reflects in song all about how the Lord swooped in and rescued the nation of Israel and literally walked them through the desert to the promised land.  Where the “the Lord alone led” them from slavery to freedom.

The themes of rescue and provision should be very familiar to the Christian – because we were once lost and are now found. We were dead and brought to life. We were in darkness and saw the light.   I could sing a song of praise to the Lord for all He has done for me, and I have.

 In fact last night, as I was driving back to my countryside home from my parent’s place in Hudson, I was a little tired and realized I had to be diligent to stay awake so I turned off the audio book I was listening to and put on a playlist of worship music from my Celebrate Freedom days in Hudson and it didn’t take long before I was WIDE AWAKE and singing and shouting out praises to the Lord as I drove north.  As I was reminded of how the Lord has rescued me and blessed my path, I was lifted to heights of joy as I sang and shouted out my thanks and praises. And the fact that I was doing it on Christmas Eve, took my worship session up a few notches higher as I realized that I was doing what all Christians should be doing on Christmas Eve – thanking God, praising Him, and proclaiming our undying allegiance to following Him. 

So on this Christmas day – let’s remember the rescue and the new life we have and rejoice over the best gift we have ever received – our Lord and Savior – Jesus Christ.

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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 are sharing from “God is in the Manger- Reflections on Advent and Christmas” – By Dietrich Bonhoeffer.   

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

God is in the Manger – Dietrich Bonhoeffer

THE TWELVE DAYS OF CHRISTMAS AND EPIPHANY

CHRISTMAS DAY (DECEMBER 25)

Living by God’s Mercy

We cannot approach the manger of the Christ child in the same way we approach the cradle of another child. Rather, when we go to his manger, something happens, and we cannot leave it again unless we have been judged or redeemed. Here we must either collapse or know the mercy of God directed toward us.

What does that mean? Isn’t all of this just a way of speaking? Isn’t it just pastoral exaggeration of a pretty and pious legend? What does it mean that such things are said about the Christ child? Those who want to take it as a way of speaking will do so and continue to celebrate Advent and Christmas as before, with pagan indifference. For us it is not just a way of speaking. For that’s just it: it is God himself, the Lord and Creator of all things, who is so small here, who is hidden here in the corner, who enters into the plainness of the world, who meets us in the helplessness and defenselessness of a child, and wants to be with us. And he does this not out of playfulness or sport, because we find that so touching, but in order to show us where he is and who he is, and in order from this place to judge and devalue and dethrone all human ambition.

The throne of God in the world is not on human thrones, but in human depths, in the manger. Standing around his throne there are no flattering vassals but dark, unknown, questionable figures who cannot get their fill of this miracle and want to live entirely by the mercy of God.

“Joy to the world!” Anyone for whom this sound is foreign, or who hears in it nothing but weak enthusiasm, has not yet really heard the gospel. For the sake of humankind, Jesus Christ became a human being in a stable in Bethlehem: Rejoice, O Christendom! For sinners, Jesus Christ became a companion of tax collectors and prostitutes: Rejoice, O Christendom! For the condemned, Jesus Christ was condemned to the cross on Golgotha: Rejoice, O Christendom! For all of us, Jesus Christ was resurrected to life: Rejoice, O Christendom!… All over the world today people are asking: Where is the path to joy? The church of Christ answers loudly: Jesus is our joy! (1 Pet. 1:7–9). Joy to the world!

Dietrich Bonhoeffer

In this you rejoice, even if now for a little while you have had to suffer various trials, so that the genuineness of your faith—being more precious than gold that, though perishable, is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. Although you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and rejoice with an indescribable and glorious joy, for you are receiving the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls.

1 Peter 1:6–9[1]

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Encouragement for the Path of Christian Discipleship



[1] Dietrich Bonhoeffer, God Is in the Manger: Reflections on Advent and Christmas, ed. Jana Riess, trans. O. C. Dean Jr., First edition. (Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press, 2010), 65–67.

Thursday, August 3, 2023

Getting Lost - Self-Deception Series 22 – Purity 1111


Getting Lost - Self-Deception Series 22 – Purity 1111

Purity 1111 08/03/2023 Purity 1111 Podcast

Purity 1111 on YouTube: 


YouTube Flipped the Photo, AGAIN! I wasn't that lost! (I FIXED IT!)


Good morning,

Today’s photo of the Bluffs Edge Trail, winding through the wilderness along the coast of Lake Erie comes to us from yours truly as I captured this wooded scene on the return trek to our automobile during yesterday’s visit to Erie Bluffs State Park. 

Well, It’s Thursday and I am happy to report that we did make it out of Erie Bluffs State Park, no thanks to myself, because I became so focused on the twists and turns of the map that I had captured to my phone that I didn’t realize that I wasn’t where I thought I was and ignored the obvious signs that told us which way to go.  I began to take a left turn based on my “supposing” when my wife pointed out that “our car is over there!” on a path straight ahead.  I was in utter disbelief at the time because the twists in turns of the path seemed to match up with the map which “told me” that we had to bear left otherwise we would be taking a long walk to the other end of the park.  In my defense, and after a further review of the map, two factors came into play that led me astray:

1.    The map didn’t accurately reflect reality.  There were mown paths and little foot trails at the park that were not on the map!

2.    At a critical point on the walk out of the woods, we came to a 3 way unmarked intersection, at which we chose a path that was in the right direction, but I assumed we were at a point that was further west than we were. 

So, I assumed that we on the westward leg of Transition Trail, when we were on the Southern leg, and when our winding progress seemed to match up with the map, I took an unmarked mowed path to the left to be the “Black Oak Savana Trail” when in fact it wasn’t.  Luckily, TammyLyn was looking at where she was going rather than blindly following me and pointed out the shapes of automobiles in the distance that signaled “this is the way”.  

I really was sure I knew where I was going and even after seeing the vehicles I wasn’t convinced as I experienced the cognitive dissonance of my imagination and expectations being confronted with the contradictory information of reality, but I begrudgingly trusted my wife and followed her until it was clear that “that parking lot was “THE parking lot” and I humbly admitted I had been lost and didn’t know it.  

I had believed things that were not true and continued believing them until it was painfully obvious that I had been deceived by faulty information and false expectations created by my imaginative assumptions.   Just because you think something is true doesn’t mean that it is, and just because you are sincere in believing your false beliefs doesn’t mean they will take you where you want to go.  To know the truth, we have to accurately look at all the evidence and admit when we have made a mistake in judgement when reality reveals the error of our ways.

 And that brings us to our current series on Self- Deception, where we have decided to investigate some of the ways we deceive ourselves by walking through Step 2, Deception Vs. Truth, of the Steps to Freedom in Christ to see what ways we may have been deceived by “the world” and ourselves and in what ways we have wrongly defended ourselves. 

So we present the sixth of the  “Ways to Deceive Yourself”:

6 . Thinking that God is the source of my problems.

The scripture reference for this point is:

Lamentations 3:1-24 (NLT2)
1  I am the one who has seen the afflictions that come from the rod of the LORD’s anger.
2  He has led me into darkness, shutting out all light.
3  He has turned his hand against me again and again, all day long.
4  He has made my skin and flesh grow old. He has broken my bones.
5  He has besieged and surrounded me with anguish and distress.
6  He has buried me in a dark place, like those long dead.
7  He has walled me in, and I cannot escape. He has bound me in heavy chains.
8  And though I cry and shout, he has shut out my prayers.
9  He has blocked my way with a high stone wall; he has made my road crooked.
10  He has hidden like a bear or a lion, waiting to attack me.
11  He has dragged me off the path and torn me in pieces, leaving me helpless and devastated.
12  He has drawn his bow and made me the target for his arrows.
13  He shot his arrows deep into my heart.
14  My own people laugh at me. All day long they sing their mocking songs.
15  He has filled me with bitterness and given me a bitter cup of sorrow to drink.
16  He has made me chew on gravel. He has rolled me in the dust.
17  Peace has been stripped away, and I have forgotten what prosperity is.
18  I cry out, “My splendor is gone! Everything I had hoped for from the LORD is lost!”
19  The thought of my suffering and homelessness is bitter beyond words.
20  I will never forget this awful time, as I grieve over my loss.
21  Yet I still dare to hope when I remember this:
22  The faithful love of the LORD never ends! His mercies never cease.
23  Great is his faithfulness; his mercies begin afresh each morning.
24  I say to myself, “The LORD is my inheritance; therefore, I will hope in him!”

After a long journey into despair based on the facts of his suffering, Jeremiah made a mistake in concluding that God was out to get him.  He looked at His situation and God’s sovereignty and more or less assumed “God hates me” and was the source of all of his problems. 

This is a classic trap of the enemy and self-deception – where we take things that are “facts” – things that are true – and draw conclusions that are false from them.   Some examples of this are:

·       They didn’t answer my call, they must not like me or care about me. 

·       My wife left me, so I must be unlovable. 

·       My parents ignored me, I must be worthless. 

·       I was picked last on the team, so I must be useless.

Just like an illusionist uses misdirection to grab our focus to keep us from seeing the truth, we can focus on the facts of our situations, ignoring other things that disagree with what we believe is true, to the point that we draw a false conclusion – “We must turn left here!” for instance.  

But luckily, in the above passage, Jeremiah looks pasts the facts of his suffering and remembers the truth about God. God isn’t hateful, He’s loving.  God isn’t mean and abusive, God is merciful.  When Jerimiah remembers the truth about God, he leaves his despair behind and is filled with a hope that is based on the truth of God’s faithfulness.

And just like Jeremiah, we have to remember God’s faithfulness when we start to slip into hopelessness or condemnation.  God is not the source of our problems. Yes, the facts may reflect that we are suffering or people have rejected us but the higher truth of God’s love, acceptance, care, and provision remains true and when the going gets tough we accept the reality of our situations but we also put our hope in God and trust that He will be with us and will help us with His strength, comfort, and wisdom until the “facts” are seen according to God’s truth and perspective. When we spend our lives walking and talking with God and following where He leads, we are never lost for too long and even in the darkest valley we can have peace and joy because He is with us.    

 

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

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

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

This morning’s meditation verses come from the section on Affliction, Discipline, Chastisement, & Trials.

Deuteronomy 8:2-5 (NIV2011)
2  Remember how the LORD your God led you all the way in the wilderness these forty years, to humble and test you in order to know what was in your heart, whether or not you would keep his commands.
3  He humbled you, causing you to hunger and then feeding you with manna, which neither you nor your ancestors had known, to teach you that man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of the LORD.
4  Your clothes did not wear out and your feet did not swell during these forty years.
5  Know then in your heart that as a man disciplines his son, so the LORD your God disciplines you.

Today’s verses fall under the eighth point of our counseling reference guide resource’s section on Affliction, Discipline, Chastisement, & Trials

 8. “God disciplined and tried His people on their journey to the promised land to teach them important lessons”. 

Today’s verses remind us that the Lord tests His people, but they also remind us that although He may humble us, the Lord does it as a loving Father who seeks to teach his children the proper way to go and to best represent His kingdom.    

Jesus quoted verse 3 from this passage when He was tempted in the wilderness by Satan: telling the evil one that “man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of the LORD.” 

We are supposed to live on the Lord’s instructions for us and we are to keep His commands.  And so the Lord will test us with the purpose that we will learn to depend on His wisdom and strength as we go through life.   So when we run into trials we can comfort ourselves by remembering that God has always tested His people and that the difficulty we face proves that God cares about us and seeks to refine our faith and cause us to agree with and follow Him.

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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  The Holy Spirit By A.W. Pink.

As always, I share this information for educational purposes and encourage you all to purchase A.W. Pink’s books for your own private study and to support his work.  This resource is available online for $0.99 (https://www.amazon.com/Holy-Spirit-Arthur-Pink-Collection-ebook/dp/B008CM5292/ref=sr_1_3?crid=AHKAQOM39CTN&keywords=a.w.+pink+the+holy+spirit&qid=1684376225&sprefix=a.w.+pink+the+holy+spirit+%2Caps%2C96&sr=8-3) 

A.W. Pink’s The Holy Spirit

17 - The Spirit Uniting in Christ

Spiritual Union

Spiritual union with Christ, then, is effected both by the external preaching of the Gospel and the internal “drawing” of the Father. Let us now take note of the bands by which Christ and the believer are knit together. These bands are two in number, being the Holy Spirit on Christ’s part, and faith on our part. The Spirit on Christ’s part is His quickening us with spiritual life, whereby Christ first takes hold of us. Faith on our part, when thus quickened, is that whereby we take hold of Christ. We must first be “apprehended” (laid hold of) by Christ, before we can apprehend Him:

Philippians 3:12. No vital act of faith can be exercised until a vital principle is first communicated to us. Thus, Christ is in the believer by His Spirit; the believer is in Christ by faith. Christ is in the believer by inhabitation; the believer is in Christ by implantation (Rom. 6:3–5). Christ is in the believer as the head is in the body; we are in Christ as the members are in the head.

“He that is joined unto the Lord is one spirit” with Him (1 Cor. 6:17). The same Spirit which is in the Head is in the members of His mystical body, a vital union being effected between them. Christ is in Heaven, we upon earth, but the Spirit being omnipresent is the connecting link. “For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles” (1 Cor. 12:13)—what could be plainer than that? “Hereby know we that we dwell in Him, and He in us, because He hath given us of His Spirit” (1 John 4:13). Thus, Christ is unto His people a Head not only of government, but also of influence. Though the ties which connect the Redeemer and the redeemed are spiritual and invisible, yet are they so real and intimate that He lives in them and they live in Him, for “the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death” (Rom. 8:2).

“But if the Spirit of Him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, He that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by His Spirit that dwelleth in you” (Rom. 8:11), and this, because the Spirit is the bond of union between us and Christ. Because there is the same Spirit in the Head and in His members, He will therefore work the same effects in Him and in us. If the Head rise, the members will follow after, for they are appointed to be conformed unto Him (Rom. 8:29)—in obedience and suffering now, in happiness and glory hereafter. Christ was raised by the Spirit of holiness (Rom. 1:4), and so shall we be—the earnest of which we have already received when brought from death unto life.[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 Ask Seek Knock blog (https://tammylynask.blogspot.com/ ),  her Facebook Group: Ask, Seek, Knock (https://www.facebook.com/groups/529047851449098 ) and her podcast Ask, Seek, and Knock on Podbean (https://feed.podbean.com/tammalyn78/feed.xml)

For those who require the assistance of a Deeper Walk International Prayer Minister to experience healing or your freedom in Christ, I highly recommend Christy Edge’s Life on the Edge Freedom Prayer Ministry. You can schedule a session by going to : https://cedge216.wixsite.com/life-on-the-edge     

“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 Walkington Pink, The Holy Spirit (Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software, n.d.).

Thursday, January 12, 2023

Just Breathe… and Follow Him - Purity 939

 

 Just Breathe… and Follow Him - Purity 939

Purity 939 01/11/2023 Purity 939 Podcast

Purity 939 on YouTube: 



Good morning,

Today’s photo of an ascending boardwalk bridge bathed in sunlight underneath a clear blue sky comes to us from a friend who shared this scene from “Port A” back on May 7th of 2022 with the simple caption: “Ahhhhh… just breathe”.  

Well it’s Thursday again, and as is my habit I share my friends’ photo as a visual representation of the path of Christian Discipleship and I share her sentiment to encourage anyone who would hear or read this message to pause and rest in the moment and to consider drawing closer to God with the way you live your life.

One of the biggest stumbling blocks to a life of peace and joy is the tendency for us to think of our relationship with the Lord as being separate from the rest of our lives. Our society and even our “church culture” can paint the picture that God is to be enjoyed in the four walls of a church and be left there to be visited once a week or on special occasions.  The belief that there has to be a separation of “church” and the rest of our lives seeks to put God in a box but invariably keeps the ones who hold such a view in a doubleminded world view and limited in their faith and in experiencing the fruit of the Spirit from growing in their lives.   

Such a categorization and division of the holy and the secular would have us serving two masters and unfortunately the time spent in each realm would reveal that we might relate to the world more than we do to God.  

So how do we resolve this?

Do we pack up our stuff and camp out on the church’s front lawn or let the pastor know that we are officially drawing closer to God so we will be setting up house in whatever space they can provide us?  

While those ideas would certainly show where your heart is, a better idea would be to welcome the Lord to move in with you and to ask Him to go with you as you walk through life.  

The good news is that you won’t be disrupting God. He’s omnipresent, everywhere at once, so He doesn’t even have to pack a bag to be your travelling companion through life.  The truth is that if you have made Jesus Christ your Lord and Savior, His Holy Spirit  lives in you already and He will be happy to pour out into all the aspects of your life.

Now the idea of going on some spiritual journey might be a little scary to some, as we don’t know what that is like or because we fear what the Lord will have us do. Or we could fear that following the unseen God is just crazy.  To that I would echo the Lord’s sentiments from His word in:

Joshua 1:9 (NKJV) where God said
9  Have I not commanded you? Be strong and of good courage; do not be afraid, nor be dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go."

And

Deuteronomy 31:6 (NKJV) where Moses encouraged:
6  Be strong and of good courage, do not fear nor be afraid of them; for the LORD your God, He is the One who goes with you. He will not leave you nor forsake you."

And in case you are one of those “that was written to the nation of Israel” guys. Here is a verse directly concerning “us” -  the church, Christians:

2 Timothy 1:7 (NKJV) where Paul, writing about Christians said:
7  For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.

It is the Same God from the Old to the New Testament, and His word encourages that:

God is with us wherever we go, So let’s talk to Him. 

God will never leave us or forsake us, So let’s draw on His presence, strength and guidance to lead us.  

And God’s Spirit lives in us, to give us the power to overcome our fears, to love like He loves,  and He assures us that following Him can be done with a sound mind.   

So just breathe and follow Him.

I’m sharing a link from open bible dot info’s list of “Do not fear” verses on the blog today (https://www.openbible.info/topics/do_not_fear)  to encourage you and to assure you that you need not fear developing your relationship with the Lord.   He will teach you through His word and His presence, if you just stop, take a deep breath and decide to follow where ever He leads you. 

Don’t worry. He will most likely lead you to a body of Bible believing Christians where you can grow and discover His purpose for your life.   

If you are local to the capital district I am sharing the link to this week’s “Pray Together prayer event. ( https://starpoint.church/events/?fbclid=IwAR2Bi4rGW8KfvIZKXwIe8njRlmmYvMb8MRTESB5b2WDLvRdCytqKB9_oQ-g?sapurl=LytlMzE4L2xiL2V2Lyt3MzNoM3ljP2JyYW5kaW5nPXRydWUmZW1iZWQ9dHJ1ZSZyZWNlbnRSb3V0ZT1hcHAud2ViLWFwcC5saWJyYXJ5LmNhbGVuZGFyJnJlY2VudFJvdXRlU2x1Zz0lMkI5emdrZ3I1) Consider it my invitation to you to “Come and See” what the Lord may do in this event.   And to possibly join one of the four churches represented here.  

If you are not local and yearn for a deeper walk with God and to experience your freedom in Christ, I am sharing a link to Freedom in Christ Ministries where you can boldly step out and join an online class (https://www.ficm.org/courses/level-1-get-started/ ). I will be leading the Freedom in Christ course for Men, on Tuesday nights, but there are many to choose from and I know that any one of them can help you in further developing your relationship with God. Classes begin near the end of the month, so sign up today.   

Whether you can make it to the local prayer event, sign up for a class, or not, let me encourage you to “just breathe” and to make the daily decision to keep walking and talking with God and to discover the life of abundant peace and joy, and the other fruit of the Spirit, that He has for you.

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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:

Ephesians 3:19 (NLT2)
19  May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God.

Today’s verse encourages us that we are made complete when we experience God’s love that provides us with all the fullness of life, even though it may be too great to understand.  

I remember a worship song that considered the question of God’s Amazing love.   There are others but Chris Tomlin’s “Amazing Love” states: 

“I'm forgiven because You were forsaken,

I'm accepted, You were condemned.

I am alive and well, Your sprit is within me,

Because You died and rose again.

Amazing love,

How can it be?

That You, my King would die for me?

Amazing love,

I know it's true.

It's my joy to honor You,

In all I do, I honor You.”  

(https://www.lyricsmode.com/lyrics/c/chris_tomlin/amazing_love.html)

It's difficult to understand why God would send His Son to die us, but He did and He did it because of His love for us. 

And when we know God’s love, and make Jesus our Lord and Savior, it fills the empty our lives that only God was meant to fill.  God’s love gives us the fullness of life and so I echo Paul’s prayer that even though you may not be able to fully understand it: I pray that you experience the love of Christ and allow Him to give you the fullness of life and the power that only comes from God.

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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 A.W. Pink’s “The Sovereignty of God”

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 SOVEREIGNTY OF GOD

By  ARTHUR W. PINK

CHAPTER THREE

SOVEREIGNTY OF GOD IN ADMINISTRATION continues

3. God governs the children of men

We fully appreciate the fact that this is the most difficult part of our subject, and, accordingly, it will be dealt with at greater length in the pages that follow; but at present we consider the fact of God’s government over men in general, before we attempt to deal with the problem in detail.

Two alternatives confront us, and between them we are obliged to choose: either God governs, or He is governed; either God rules, or He is ruled; either God has His way, or men have theirs. And is our choice between these alternatives hard to make? Shall we say that in man we behold a creature so unruly that he is beyond God’s control? Shall we say that sin has alienated the sinner so far from the thrice Holy One that he is outside the pale of His jurisdiction? Or, shall we say that man has been endowed with moral responsibility, and therefore God must leave him entirely free, at least during the period of his probation? Does it necessarily follow because the natural man is an outlaw against heaven, a rebel against the Divine government, that God is unable to fulfil His purpose through him? We mean, not merely that He may overrule the effects of the actions of evil-doers, nor that He will yet bring the wicked to stand before His judgment-bar so that sentence of punishment may be passed upon them—multitudes of non-Christians believe these things—but, we mean, that every action of the most lawless of His subjects is entirely beneath His control, yea that the actor is, though unknown to himself, carrying out the secret decrees of the Most High. Was it not thus with Judas? and is it possible to select a more extreme case? If then the arch-rebel was performing the counsel of God is it any greater tax upon our faith to believe the same of all rebels?

Our present object is no philosophic inquiry nor metaphysical causistry, but to ascertain the teaching of Scripture upon this profound theme. To the Law and the Testimony, for there only can we learn of the Divine government—its character, its design, its modus operandi, its scope. What then has it pleased God to reveal to us in His blessed Word concerning His rule over the works of His hands, and particularly, over the one who originally was made in His own image and likeness?

“In Him we live, and move, and have our being” (Acts 17:28). What a sweeping assertion is this! These words, be it noted, were addressed, not to one of the churches of God, not to a company of saints who had reached an exalted plane of spirituality, but to a heathen audience, to those who worshipped “the unknown God” and who “mocked” when they heard of the resurrection of the dead. And yet, to the Athenian philosophers, to the Epicureans and Stoics, the apostle Paul did not hesitate to affirm that they lived and moved and had their being in God, which signified not only that they owed their existence and preservation to the One who made the world and all things therein, but also that their very actions were encompassed and therefore controlled by the Lord of heaven and earth. Compare Dan. 5:23, last clause!

“The disposings (margin) of the heart, and the answer of the tongue is from the Lord” (Prov. 16:1). Mark that the above declaration is of general application—it is of “man,” not simply of believers, that this is predicated. “A man’s heart deviseth his way: but the Lord directeth his steps” (Prov. 16:9). If the Lord directs the steps of a man, is it not proof that he is being controlled or governed by God? Again: “There are many devices in a man’s heart; nevertheless the counsel of the Lord, that shall stand” (Prov. 19:21). Can this mean anything less than, that no matter what man may desire and plan, it is the will of his Maker which is executed? As an illustration take the “Rich Fool.” The “devices” of his heart are made known to us—“And he thought within himself, saying, What shall I do, because I have no room where to bestow my fruits? And he said, This will I do: I will pull down my barns, and build greater; and there I will bestow all my fruits and my goods. And I will say to my soul, Soul, thou hast much goods laid up for many years; take thine ease, eat, drink, and be merry.” Such were the “devices” of his heart, nevertheless it was “the counsel of the Lord” that stood. The “I will’s” of the rich man came to nought, for “God said unto him, Thou fool, this night shall thy soul be required of thee” (Luke 12).

“The king’s heart is in the hand of the Lord, as the rivers of water: He turneth it whithersoever He will” (Prov. 21:1). What could be more explicit? Out of the heart are “the issues of life” (Prov. 4:23), for as a man “thinketh in his heart, so is he” (Prov. 23:7). If then the heart is in the hand of the Lord, and if “He turneth it whithersoever He will,” then is it not clear that men, yea, governors and rulers, and so all men, are completely beneath the governmental control of the Almighty!

No limitations must be placed upon the above declarations. To insist that some men, at least, do thwart God’s will and overturn His counsels, is to repudiate other scriptures equally explicit. Weigh well the following: “But He is one mind, and who can turn Him? and what His soul desireth, even that He doeth” (Job 23:13). “The counsel of the Lord standeth for ever, the thoughts of His heart to all generations” (Psa. 33:11). “There is no wisdom nor understanding nor counsel against the Lord” (Prov. 21:30). “For the Lord of hosts hath purposed, and who shall disannul it? And His hand is stretched out, and who shall turn it back?” (Isa. 14:27). “Remember the former things of old: for I am God, and there is none else! I am God, and there is none like Me, declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times the things that are not yet done, saying, My counsel shall stand, and I will do all My pleasure” (Isa. 46:9, 10). There is no ambiguity in these passages. They affirm in the most unequivocal and unqualified terms that it is impossible to bring to naught the purpose of Jehovah.

We read the Scriptures in vain if we fail to discover that the actions of men, evil men as well as good, are governed by the Lord God. Nimrod and his fellows determined to erect the tower of Babel, but ere their task was accomplished God frustrated their plans. God called Abraham “alone” (Isa. 51:2), but his kinsfolk accompanied him as he left Ur of the Chaldees. Was then the will of the Lord defeated? Nay, verily. Mark the sequel. Terah died before Canaan was reached (Gen. 11:31), and though Lot accompanied his uncle into the land of promise, he soon separated from him and settled down in Sodom. Jacob was the child to whom the inheritance was promised, and though Isaac sought to reverse Jehovah’s decree and bestow the blessing upon Esau, his efforts came to naught. Esau again swore vengeance upon Jacob, but when next they met they wept for joy instead of fighting in hate. The brethren of Joseph determined his destruction but their evil counsels were overthrown. Pharaoh refused to let Israel carry out the instructions of Jehovah and perished in the Red Sea for his pains. Balak hired Balaam to curse the Israelites but God compelled him to bless them. Haman erected a gallows for Mordecai but was hanged upon it himself. Jonah resisted the revealed will of God but what became of his efforts?

Ah, the heathen may “rage” and the people imagine a “vain thing;” the kings of earth may “set themselves,” and the rulers take counsel together against the Lord and against His Christ, saying, “Let us break Their bands asunder, and cast away Their cords from us” (Psa. 2:1–3). But is the great God perturbed or disturbed by the rebellion of his puny creatures? No, indeed: “He that sitteth in the heavens shall laugh: the Lord shall have them in derision” (v. 4). He is infinitely exalted above all, and the greatest confederacies of earth’s pawns, and their most extensive and vigorous preparations to defeat His purpose are, in His sight, altogether purile. He looks upon their puny efforts, not only without any alarm, but He “laughs” at their folly; He treats their impotency with “derision.” He knows that He can crush them like moths when He pleases, or consume them in a moment with the breath of His mouth. Ah, it is but “a vain thing” for the potsherds of the earth to strive with the glorious Majesty of Heaven. Such is our God; worship ye Him.

Mark, too, the sovereignty which God displayed in His dealings with men! Moses who was slow of speech, and not Aaron his elder brother who was not slow of speech, was the one chosen to be His ambassador in demanding from Egypt’s monarch the release of His oppressed people. Moses again, though greatly beloved, utters one hasty word and was excluded from Canaan; whereas Elijah, passionately murmurs and suffers but a mild rebuke, and was afterwards taken to heaven without seeing death! Uzzah merely touched the ark and was instantly slain, whereas the Philistines carried it off in insulting triumph and suffered no immediate harm. Displays of grace which would have brought a doomed Sodom to repentance failed to move an highly privileged Capernaum. Mighty works which would have subdued Tyre and Sidon left the upbraided cities of Galilee under the curse of a rejected Gospel. If they would have prevailed over the former, why were thy not wrought there? If they proved ineffectual to deliver the latter then why perform them? What exhibitions are these of the sovereign will of the Most High?[1]

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

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Encouragement for the Path of Christian Discipleship



[1] Arthur W. Pink, The Sovereignty of God (Swengel, PA: Bible Truth Depot, 1949), 47–51.