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Showing posts with label Discipleship. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Discipleship. Show all posts

Wednesday, August 10, 2022

Register for a Freedom In Christ Discipleship Course for this Fall, Now!


 Announcement Podcast

I am happy to announce that I will be facilitating another round of the Freedom in Christ Course for Freedom in Christ Ministries this fall! And we are going national! My group is the only men’s group and we will be meeting on Tuesday evenings via Zoom.

But there other classes available as well, see below and follow the link to register!

Freedom in Christ Course Classes

Classes start the week of September 6th

Freedom in Christ Ministries is offering national Freedom in Christ Course classes with registration open now.

There are 5 different class options. These are being organized by Sue Huber, CFMA from the Northeast team. They are open to everyone.

The Freedom in Christ Course is designed to help every Christian become a fruitful disciple and make their life count. Over 350,000 people have gone through the curriculum in English, and it has been translated into over 25 languages. Some of the areas covered in the course include:

– How we became brand-new people from the inside out when we became Christians

– Why we can go boldly into God’s presence any time we like without fear

– How nothing we do can make God love us any more or any less

– How to resolve the effects of even the deepest issues from the past

– How to deal with repeating patterns of sin

– Understanding what God’s purpose for your life is (it may not be what you think!)

This is our foundational discipleship course.

If you know anyone who is interested, please have them apply soon. We have already had 14 people sign up in the last 12 hours! To find out more:

https://www.ficm.org/.../freedom-in-christ-course-fall-2022/.

Applications/registrations will be open through August 23, 2022.

 

Tuesday, August 9, 2022

A Rebel’s Surrender and Care of the Temple - Purity 805


A Rebel’s Surrender and Care of the Temple - Purity 805

Purity 805 08/09/2022 Purity 805 Podcast

Good morning,

Today’s photo of a “Cotton Candy Sunset” over Lake Ontario comes to us today from Celestial Blue Photography who captured this scene in Oswego NY back on August 5th.  I just love how God lights up the sky to keep our gaze upward and to lead us to ponder the origin of our existence, a search that if pursued logically will lead to the conclusion of a self-existent Creator and if coupled with God’s grace will lead us to our surrender to the Lordship of Jesus Christ.  

So many ponder the vastness of the universe and know that there must be a God but they stop short of pursuing the truth in the Bible that would lead them the rest of the way to the answer of life and death.  Some hear the truth and lament that they “wish” they could believe but they refuse it claiming a variety of reasons that merely mask their rebellion to surrender the authority of their life to God.  

I get it! Oh brother, all my life I questioned authority and although I wasn’t a known troublemaker, I was too smart for that, I was positively anarchistic in terms of defying standards, rules, and regulations in my heart because all I needed to see was one drop of hypocrisy or one iota of self interest or a desire to control and I would see that those in authority didn’t know what they were doing or were doing it for selfish reasons. 

Ironically, these insights in my youth should have led me to the perfect government of God’s kingdom and to embrace the measures He ordained to establish and maintain the limited amount of good, justice, or stability that we have on earth, rather than inwardly screaming “Anarchy!” and seeking to defy authority in anyway I could that would give me the personal satisfaction that “I knew better” or “I was in control of me!” A nine inch nail song’s lyric, summed up my secret heart: “I’d rather die than give you control!!!”

Well, the good news is I did die! It is only through my faith in Christ, and dying and being raised to life with Him that I am not currently hung over and angry about having to face another day working for “The Man”.

I never should have been a rebel because of the imperfections of mankind to establish God’s peace on earth. Instead of trying to tear things down, I should have used my insights to make things better. I should have been a reformer rather than a rebel.  But boy am I glad I didn’t.

What? Yeah, if I had taken that path I would have really been full of myself, and my self-righteousness was bad enough as a rebel. Could you imagine how inflated my ego would have been if I had sought to be “good” in my own strength and with my atheistic /secular humanist bent would have been even more convinced that I didn’t need God.  

But oh well, if we understand reality and God’s grace, we have to understand that we shouldn’t “Monday Quaterback” our lives, even on a Tuesday. We got one life to live. We can’t go back. We made our choices and we can’t choose a different path way back when in the past, to even contemplate these ideas is in truth a tremendous waste of time, but instead we can choose to follow a new path, prayerfully God’s path, today.  

But even if we do play “Devil’s advocate” and contemplate “what if” with our pasts, we have to realize that if God wanted us in His kingdom, no choices we would have made would have made a difference in terms of coming to Christ. Thank you God!   So if you do that “what if” stuff, stop supposing and start living, starting now.   

Anyway, as I was working out today an older, not that old, worship song came on and it reminded me of the earlier days on my walk and how I need “more faith” because even though I did believe, I still struggled with sin and unbelief. 

The song was “Give me Faith” by Elevation worship. I am sharing a link to a lyric video on YouTube on the blog if you want to check it out (https://youtu.be/N9w6284vC1w).   Any way the lyrics say:

“I need You

To soften my heart and break me apart

I need You

To pierce through the dark and cleanse every part of me

 

All I am, I surrender

 

Give me faith to trust what You say

That You're good and Your love is great

I'm broken inside, I give You my life

 

I may be weak but Your Spirit's strong in me

My flesh may fail, but my God, You never will

( https://www.azlyrics.com/lyrics/elevationworship/givemefaith.html)

This is an awesome song to proclaim over your faith walk.  But to live it requires that surrender and as the lyrics indicate it is a total surrender.

Do you understand the implications of a life surrendered to God’s will and ways? 

Well, let’s just say they are far reaching and the depth of which know no limits. 

If you are ever “bored” in your Christianity, it is because you haven’t answered the call to repent, to follow the Lord, and to totally surrender your life to God’s will.  

One of the things we see in any faith system is a division between clergy and laity and with the laity there are those who practice their faith devoutly and those who don’t.  

All these division are man made for the most part. God calls us all to be a royal priesthood, but I get it some are called to l’sad, or serve different functions in the body and some aren’t.  So very well, clergy, God word actually ordains it in terms of teachers, pastors, overseers, and deacons.  So I understand leaders and different functions within the body of Christ, the term I prefer over “church” because of the confusion surrounding that word because of our “church” traditions and cultures. 

I teach Freedom in Christ and encourage a lifestyle of discipleship, following Christ, and although we will all have different levels of spiritual maturity, unlike the clergy division, there really shouldn’t be a division between Christians who practice their faith and Christians who don’t. 

Christians who don’t practice their faith should truly worry about their salvation, I know I did when I was a member of a liturgical church.  I might have been in the church building but I don’t know, pretty sure I wasn’t, in the Body of Christ until 2010 when I put my faith in Christ alone and began surrendering my life to God’s wisdom and ways.  

When we surrender, not only do we discover that our life in Christ causes us to reduce or abandon our obvious sins, all at once or little by little, it can also cause us to pursue good works or to do service for God’s kingdom.

Okay, stop evil, do good right?   

But as we walk this surrendered life out we will discover that Holy Spirit will give us a heightened sense of “goodness” – a fruit of the Spirit – which will spill into the ways we view things and choose to live.  Things that aren’t “good” for us are increasingly exposed by our maturing spiritual discernment and our hearts desire will be to increasing do what’s “right” in all kinds of areas of our lives.  

I’ve shared that one of the areas that this has poured into my life is the care of my body, specifically in terms of trying to be a healthy weight and to not experience pain from my poor choices.   It also includes getting enough sleep.   I’m increasingly learning and repenting from my health “sins”. 

My job takes me all over the capital district and I am often called to do install or repair of telephone service in nursing homes.  As I have said before, it’s not how you start but how you finish, and if you want to be convicted about the importance of your health go to a nursing home or rehabilitation center and look at the consequences of poor choices played out over time.  

Not only do we have to foster our mental and spiritual health on this path or discipleship, we have to take care of the temple of the Holy Spirit. We have to care for our bodies.  

The other day I was walking through a nursing home and a woman was in a wheel chair with her feet elevated. It easy to see that her feet were in rough shape and she was crying and literally calling for “God in heaven” to help her as she was calling out to anyone who walked by to cut her toe nails, which were huge. Yup, including me. I couldn’t help her of course and it was heartbreaking.

I had foot surgery a few years ago to get rid of growths, mitosis, and after that experience I decided to take care of my feet and used lotion on the every morning for quite some time but as things got hectic with the blog and podcast, I stopped doing it. 

But not anymore, after seeing this woman’s pain, I am more convicted to take care of my body so I be healthy and be used by God to give Him glory for as long as He gives me on the earth.  

So as part of my faith walk, I am lotioning my feet again. I want to be good steward of what God has given me and be fully surrendered to Him in everything I become aware of. 

I may never be perfect in my walking and talking with God, but if I see something in my journey that indicates I should change, I will try to be diligent to surrender it to the Lord and use His strength and guidance to change it.  

So Lord, give me faith to trust what you say, because You’re good, and Your love is great, although I have been walking with you for sometime now, there are still parts of my life that are broken. I give you my life. I may be weak but Your Spirit is strong in me, my flesh may fail but my God, You never will. 

I surrender.

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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:

Hebrews 8:12 (NLT2)
12  And I will forgive their wickedness, and I will never again remember their sins.”

Today’s verse reminds us that God forgives our wickedness and promises to never again remember them.  

Of course I have to point out that God’s knowledge is perfect and today’s verse doesn’t tell us that God has forgotten our sins. His “never again remembering our sins”, means that He has truly forgiven us and He won’t hold them against us.  

God calls you to be a saint, His adopted child.  He doesn’t call you a sinner.  

So if you call yourself a “sinner saved by grace”, I recommend you agree with God and give yourself a break and “never again remember your sins” if they will cause you to feel condemned or shy away from proclaiming the gospel. 

Yeah you sinned, you messed up. Guess what? Everyone has.  But in Christ we have forgiveness and a new life with victory over sin,  so instead of beating yourself up about your old life, before you died,  mourn it and rise to life by following Christ and living differently. 

There is no condemnation for those in Christ, so believe it and live your new life where God will lead you in the way you should 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 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.

Spiritual Warfare As Proclamation

Spiritual warfare is not only defensive; it also takes the offensive. Paul called the soldiers of Christ to advance on enemy territory by proclaiming the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ Just as Christ bound the strong man in order to plunder his house, so too the body of Christ plunders Satan’s kingdom by proclaiming the promise of divine rescue to captives in the kingdom of darkness.

There is one part of the soldier’s gear that is not a weapon, but it is a furnishing that enables the soldier to take an offensive posture in the battle—good footwear. A typical soldier would journey for miles as his army advanced to the battlefront and then pursue the enemy (This was certainly true when Xerxes led his armies all the way from Persia in an attempt to conquer Greece!). The footgear of the Christian needs to be “the readiness to announce the Good News of peace” (Eph 6:15 TEV). Believers need to be prepared to share the good news of Christ wherever God may lead them.

Many commentators have correctly observed that the only offensive weapon in the entire panoply is the sword (Eph 6:17). While it is used as a part of a believer’s resistance, it is also a weapon of aggression. The Word of God and the work of the Spirit are the means by which the people of God step out in defiance of Satan and rob his domain. They are the means by which God draws people to himself, transforming their lives and bringing them into relationship with himself.

Thus, according to Paul, the primary aggressive action the Christian is called to take in the world is to spread the gospel—the good news of salvation through the death and resurrection of Christ. The gospel represents “God’s power to rescue people from [the devil’s] tyranny.”

The whole course of Paul’s ministry is a model of this aggressive proclamation. The church should follow Paul’s lead. Luke seemed to understand this point and wrote his account of Paul’s missionary outreach in a way that would inspire zeal and courage among the believers who read it. At the same time, Luke did not minimize the amount of conflict Paul faced in his proclamational mission. Luke interpreted much of this conflict, as described in chapter one, as powerful demonic opposition. Yet the Christian who depends on God’s power, as Paul did, will overcome enemy hostilities, and the gospel will continue to advance, with more and more people being saved out of the dominion of darkness.

Even here, in the context of Ephesians, Paul personally was concerned with the mission of the church in spite of his imprisonment. He wanted God’s enabling power to be imparted to him through prayer, not necessarily for a demonstration of the gospel’s supernatural character through miraculous events. He sensed a need for God’s touch so he could proclaim it fearlessly and boldly! Even after all the years of successful preaching, Paul still felt a great need for a divine infusing of power to give him the nerve to proclaim the gospel fearlessly. He pleads, “Pray also for me, that whenever I open my mouth, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains. Pray that I may declare it fearlessly, as I should” (Eph 6:19–20). Paul’s incessant readiness to proclaim the good news was a hallmark of his life. Likewise, it should be of paramount importance to believers in subsequent generations. This is the mission of the church![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), 156–158.

Monday, August 8, 2022

Free to Leave - Purity 804


Free to Leave - Purity 804

Purity 804 08/08/2022 Purity 804 Podcast

Good morning,

Today’s photo of the public beach at Schroon Lake comes to us from yours truly as I spontaneously found myself further north than I would have ever dreamed Saturday and decided to make the most of it.  

Shortly after reporting Saturday that I didn’t have any “have to’s” to take care of on Saturday, I received word  that the Word of Life Inn & Conference Center in Schroon Lake was sold and the organization were giving away furniture and “other things” away to the public. Imagining Christian resources, books!, wall hangings, and usable furniture for the taking, my curiosity, and the lack of any other plans got the best of me and launched me into action and on a spontaneous journey an hour north of my already northern countryside home.

There was quite a bit of traffic going into and coming out of the Lodge by the time I got there so the pickings were slim but in the spirit of the frenzy I was influenced to “grab something” and ended up grabbing a blue armchair that I will imagined I could use in my bedroom to read, relax or watch t.v. in. 

I tested it out yesterday afternoon and although it takes up more space that I would like, it will meet it’s imagined purpose and it could give my wife a place to sit in my room other than my bed, as I only had a single office chair in the room before.   

Although I got the chair, I was disappointed because there was nothing else like I imagined. The only books they were giving away were Bibles that had been in each room in the inn, and I have plenty of Bibles already.  Yeah my imagination of Christian resources was a false expectation as I discovered that the Lodge was more a less a hotel and the offerings would be what you would expect from any hotel giving away its old furniture: beds, night stands, lamps, arm chairs, low height dressers, but I didn’t know that when I left at a moments notice and went barreling up I-87 to get there.  

So now that I realized that I was at Schroon Lake with nothing else to do, I decided to make the most of my hour and fifteen minute long drive and googled public swimming. I carry a bag in my car with a towel, swim trunks, and other clothes to be prepared for spontaneous fun or unexpected trips or overnight stays so I was ready for some spontaneous swimming fun and discover the public beach would be opening at 11 and was only a short drive a way. 

So I got there at about a quarter of 10 and figured I would read or something until the beach officially opened but shortly after I parked I saw other people setting up their beach chairs and then go into the water! So even though there were no lifeguards and the beach wasn’t officially opened, I headed down the grassy embankment that encloses the small beach and set up shop on the grassy plateau that over looks the beach. I’m not crazy about sand and my elevated position on the grassy plateau gave me a little privacy and distance from the beach below and gave me a nice view of the whole scene. After I set up my camp chair that I also keep in my car at all times for spontaneous fun,  I was soon loving my decision to make the most out of my impromptu trip as I immediately “broke the rules” and was enjoying the cool but not cold waters of Schroon Lake.  I had never been there before and I would definitely recommend it to my friends, but I would encourage you to follow my example and go early because the beach is small and it filled up pretty quickly aftre 11 AM.  

I would also recommend being careful if you decide to follow my example and decide to stay on the grassy hill that surrounds the beach.  There is a reason why not many people joined me on the perfectly level grassy plateau. 

After my maiden swim and an hour of reading and enjoying the sun, I got thirsty so I made the trek back up to my car to get some water I had left behind.  There was a sun bather nearby so I decided to take a different route up the hill and was shocked to discover what appeared to be cat or small dog poop all over the grassy hill side! I was disgusted and wondered what kind of people would be so thoughtless to let their pets relieve themselves in a public park to such an extent that the grassy hillside was a veritable mine field of poop!

So although I did go back to my spot and went swimming a few more times and stayed another hour, the growing crowd, suddenly appearing flying insects, and the fact that I now knew that the entire hill was covered in animal feces all combined to cause me to leave.  

After telling my wife of my misadventures at Schroon Lake, she shared her knowledge of living up north and shared that what I took for pet droppings left by irresponsible owners or strays, was in actuality goose poop! Apparently, unlike most birds that I am familiar with, geese poop is much larger.  

Anyway,  I guess I share all of that to encourage my friends to be spontaneous in life, to make the most of your opportunities to experience something new, but to also be aware of their surroundings!  Apparently there is always something new to learn and sometimes the lessons we get aren’t always pleasant!

And another thing that I would point out from my experience is that we can have good experiences in less than ideal circumstances, but when we discover the unpleasant truth about the place we are in, it doesn’t mean we necessarily have to stay there!  

As the circumstances surrounding my “beach day”, started to go south, I had a decision to make, I could “get over myself” and stay and decide to just “focus on the good” or I could leave! And I did leave!

For me maintaining the peace and joy of my life wasn’t “beach centered”, it’s God centered and the great thing about God is that He goes where I go. The beach had given what I needed to experience and I decided to go when the going was good.  

As someone who encourages others to experience their freedom in Christ, one of the lesson I teach is that we are free to leave negative circumstances, places, and people behind as we follow the Lord.    When we decide to follow Christ, not everyone will be walking with us and the Lord may call us to “go” rather than to endure.  

Yes, a good deal of living as a disciple of Christ involves being good, kind, faithful, gentle, and patient as we endure through bad situations and deal with difficult people but make no mistake, who the Son set free is free indeed and as we walk with Him we will discover that the Lord calls us to leave situations, people, and places behind to answer another call or to maintain our life in the Spirit.  

From the beginning, Abraham was called to leave His family and all he knew to follow the Lord,  Moses lead the nation Israel our of Egypt, and Christ told his disciples to shake of the dust of a town that did not receive His word.   So listen to what the Holy Spirit is calling you to do, but it’s “time to go”, go.   

So as we enter into a new work week, fight the good fight of faith and try to live peacefully where the Lord has brought you as you answer His call on your life to be the best “worker, parent, manager or whatever” that the Lord made you to be.  

But if you discover that the circumstances have gotten to be untenable, remember that the Lord has also given you the freedom to leave.  And if we decide to leave, we necessarily have to scream from the roof tops just how unpleasant things were on the way out the door.  

As much as I may have been tempted to scream “Hey, that hill is covered in poop!”

I didn’t because:

I didn’t want to point out the negative

I didn’t want to take away someone else’s joy

And just like when we share the gospel, often people don’t hear or understand what we say, or don’t listen to us anyway, and somethings we have to experience for ourselves.  

So keep walking and talking with God, and keep pursuing the meaning and purpose He has for your life, that may call you to stay or may call you to exercise your freedom to go.

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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:

2 Corinthians 5:17 (NLT2)
17  This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!

Today’s verse testifies to the spiritual reality of a brand new life that comes to all who put their faith in Jesus Christ.  

The biggest stumbling block to experiencing our new life in Christ is our failure to pursue the life we have been given.   Instead of being transformed by the renewing our minds with the word of God as the Bible directs us, we continue to stay where we are and do the things we have always done. 

If you are perplexed about why you don’t “feel like a new creation”, it is probably because you have misunderstood the gospel that tells us that there is “nothing to do” but put your faith in Christ to be a child of God and decided that there was “nothing to do” with your new life in Christ and thus have remained doing what you have always done.  

When we are saved, we are saved from God’s wrath.  

But what are we saved “to”?  We are made children of God to represent His kingdom and to give Him glory.  

What exactly in your life before Christ was doing that?  Probably not much.   

So if you saw the need for a Savior for your salvation, why would you assume that the way you were living before you came to Christ was “just fine”?

The call from Christ is the call to everlasting life but it is also the call to repentance.  We are made new the moment we make Christ our Lord but that doesn’t mean that nothing needs to change.  A Christian life is a transformed life.  

So if you don’t feel like you have been transformed, you need to believe that you are and make the transformation a reality in your life by changing the way you think and live to be in line with God’s word.  

So rejoice over your new life in Christ, and seek His wisdom and ways to see it manifest more and more as you make the daily decision to follow Him. 

______________________________________________________________________

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.

Spiritual Warfare As Resistance

Four times in the passage Paul used the word stand/withstand (same root in the Greek: Eph 6:11, 13, 14). In the larger context of Ephesians it is clear Paul did not want believers to “give a place to the devil” with excessive anger, lying, stealing or succumbing to any other temptation to moral impurity (Eph 4:27). Paul described the devil and his powers as working in concert with the flesh and the world (Eph 2:2–3—see above) to promote sin among Christians and hinder the progress of the gospel. For this reason the Christian needs to appropriate God’s enabling power in order to live with moral integrity.

Spiritual warfare is therefore resistance. It is a defensive posture. It involves recognizing the supernatural nature of temptation and being prepared to face it. It also implies appropriating God’s power to progress in eradicating moral vices that already have a place in one’s life.

The first two spiritual weapons Paul named are “truth” and “righteousness.” There appears to be two sides to these weapons. On the one hand, they need to be understood as divine endowments for the task of spiritual warfare. On the other hand, they are to be regarded as virtues that need to be cultivated in the lives of believers. This understanding is quite natural in that the gospel brings with it implications for Christian conduct. Paul saw the gospel as “truth” (Eph 1:13) and as the power of God for salvation (Rom 1:16). In contrast, the devil is the archadversary who uses many schemes designed to misrepresent, deceive and trick. Believers need to be convinced and assured of the gospel’s truth and what it affirms about them as God’s children. By implication, believers need to conduct their lives in a manner consistent with the truth of the gospel. Lying and deceit can have no place in a believer’s life; they are an affront to the God of truth. Consequently, in Ephesians, Paul told each Christian that he or she “must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to his neighbor” (Eph 4:25; see also 5:9).

One of the most remarkable parts of the salvation that God provides is the gift of “righteousness.” After informing the Romans that “there is no one righteous, not even one” (Rom 3:10), Paul elaborated on the wonderful news that “this righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe” (Rom 3:22). This righteousness means that those who believe in Jesus have been acquitted of all guilt before God. They are completely forgiven and reconciled to him as friends, better yet, as sons and daughters. The devil and his malicious powers would certainly like Christians to believe otherwise. The powers strive to convince people that God could not possibly forgive them for some of the horrible things they have done in the past. Such a notion could not be further from the truth. Christians have indeed been pardoned through Christ’s blood, and as such, can live boldly and confidently, not with guilt, fear and timidity.

Possessing God’s righteousness, however, brings responsibility. The apostle admonished his readers to strip off the old self and put on the new self, which is “created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness” (Eph 4:24). The development of personal holiness and integrity is part of the preparation for engaging in victorious spiritual warfare. Conversely, a lack of integrity and personal holiness will certainly hinder a believer’s ability to resist the onslaught of Satan’s minions successfully.

Another very important aspect of a believer’s resistance is “salvation,” which is linked to the helmet as the fifth piece of armor (Eph 6:17). Salvation needs to be understood as Paul explained it in the larger context of the letter. In Ephesians 2:5–10, Paul twice reaffirmed to his readers that “by grace you have been saved,” eloquently describing the concept of salvation. These two occurrences are the only occasions in all of Paul’s letters where he used the Greek perfect tense to refer to salvation. The perfect tense stresses the results of a decisive action in the past Paul wanted his readers to be very secure in their identity in Christ. They are people who are saved and enjoy the benefits of being saved.

Paul clarified what he meant by salvation in that same context with three powerful thoughts: (1) believers have been made alive with Christ, (2) they have been raised up with Christ, and (3) they have been seated with him in the heavenly realms (Eph 2:4–6). For Paul it is vitally important that believers know who they are in Christ in order to resist the influence of Satan and his forces on their lives. Only through their salvation and union with Christ will they be able to resist

Finally, the believer is given a “sword” to fend off the attacks of the evil one. The sword is linked with the Spirit and the Word of God. Just as Jesus used Scripture to resist Satan’s temptations while he was in the wilderness (Mt 4:1–11), Paul called on believers to use God’s Word to resist the devil in their own situations. This is not to be understood as a semimagical use of Scripture, quoting it out loud as a means of thwarting the devil. It involves gaining a thorough familiarity with Scripture and an accurate understanding of its relevance for any given situation. When Jesus was tempted, the devil applied Scripture inappropriately and out of context; Jesus responded to the devil by applying Scripture appropriately and according to its proper intent in conveying the mind of God on specific matters. The thorough, systematic study of Scripture on a regular basis is vital for all believers. It is an integral part of engaging in effective spiritual warfare.[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), 154–156.

Friday, August 5, 2022

Sharing our Experience, Sharing our Faith - Purity 802


Sharing our Experience, Sharing our Faith  - Purity 802

Purity 802 08/05/2022  Purity 802 Podcast

Good morning,

Today’s photo of the “Heavens over Castleton” comes to us from yours truly as I was absolutely mesmerized by the skies on my commute home yesterday as I drove out of the darkness of thunderstorms to the north of me to arrive into a land untouched by the rain and illuminated by the bright lights of heaven.   My photos really can’t do justice to what I saw yesterday but I shared the best one of to try to share my experience and how I was filled with joy to leave the darkness and turmoil of the storm behind.  

Well, it's Friday again and I'm thanking God that we can all leave behind the turmoil, and possible darkness, of our work week and we can look forward to the brightness that will lie in the weekend ahead of us at the end of the day.

Just like I tried to share my experience of leaving the darkness of a thunderstorm behind and seeing the glorious light of the sun illuminate the heavens, last night I was privileged to have the opportunity to share my experience of my Christian walk as I hosted our weekly meeting of Freedom in Christ Ministries’ “The Grace Course” on Zoom.

However, just like how my photo doesn’t adequately describe my experience yesterday, sometimes I feel like my words and my descriptions of how to walk in the Spirit pale in comparison to my actual experience of walking in it.  But then I get some feedback from some of the guys that I meet with that tell me that they have been deeply impacted by the material from the courses I've walked him through and from my personal testimony.

Last night's lesson was called “Humble!” and this morning I am greatly humbled because one of the guys reached out to me in an e-mail to let me know that I really impacted his faith and his walk as  a Christian. And that's all I want to do with the rest of my life. That's my purpose: to glorify God and Jesus Christ and show people what it means to be a disciple of Christ and how following Him leads to the abundant life that Jesus told us about.

One of the pieces of evidence that I've had an impact in other people’s lives is the fact that they try to tell other people about what they've learned. The man who gave me praise yesterday is trying to tell his friends and family about his freedom in Christ and what the gospel of grace is all about.

This gentleman is a little older in age and has grown children but their lives are not exactly faith filled but they see the change in their father and have been talking about God with him.

This man has a son who's somewhat analytical and they have discussed all the in's and outs of the claims of the Bible, the exclusivity of Jesus Christ to save, and the meaning of life. They have had real discussions about Christian faith and how it relates to “real life”.  They are in the midst of an ongoing discussion about theology and the different existential questions but the son isn’t exactly running off to church thus far.

My friend also has a daughter who reportedly had “more faith” than the son as a child but who married someone who doesn’t respect is Christian upbringing and they are now practical atheists because they don’t go to church or see any value in “religion”.  The daughter marriage and suffering through life has caused her once “childlike faith to dissipate. 

In his conversations with her, my friend has discovered that she doesn’t want to talk about theology or doctrine. She wonders about things like “why people have to die” or  “why do people have to suffer” and may see life as the time between life and death, with little faith that there is anything beyond.  

So what do you do with this you know?

Well, for the son, I recommended that my friend go to check out crossexamined.org,  Frank Turek’s ministry on Christian apologetics. Frank Turek has written “I don't have enough faith to be an atheist” and “Stealing from God”, among other books, that intelligently address the concerns about the Christian faith, and demonstrates how  our faith lines up with science, logic, and reason.  Turek’s work shows how Christianity can intelligently answers the big questions for people who want to be assured they can have a reasonable faith and not just blind faith. So if you know someone who wants to know about the ins and outs of the Christian faith in a more analytical sense Frank Turek’s website and books are great place to start.

But with that said, I did remind my friend that people who ask questions and to want to debate issues generally don't want to believe in God and that nothing we say to them will convince them.

As Frank Turek has taught, for many people having faith in God is not an issue with the head as much as it is with the heart. If people chose to believe that Jesus Christ was Lord it would mean that they would have to change how they live, not be the boss of their own life, or to give up their sins. So I advised my friend  to press towards his son’s heart as well as answering those questions that his mind brings up. The arguments Christian apologists have are solid so at the end of the day the question remains: “With all this evidence, will you believe and put your faith in Christ?”  

Now what do you say to the daughter, the one who doesn't want to talk about science and faith? How do you talk about God to someone who's more based in her emotions or the experience of life?

Well for someone like that I suggested that we keep our talks basic.

If they have a Christian background, we want to press towards things like Christmas and Easter and remind them of what they learned as a child. We want to remind them that Christ came to save the world because of God’s love for us. Jesus died for our sins and it was all done out of God's love.

We really want to push grace with people like this. We want them to know that the gospel actually means that we are saved by faith and faith alone, not works.

Ephesians 2:8-9 (NKJV) are you proof verses for this. They say:
8  For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, 9  not of works, lest anyone should boast.

The Christian faith, unlike what they may have learned in their liturgical churches, is not about rules and regulations.  The Christian faith is a relationship with God that's based on faith alone, our simple acceptance of the work that Christ did on the cross to save us. You want to remind them that God doesn't ask us to be perfect. God asks us to simply turn to Him ask for His forgiveness and to be accepted by Him because of your faith in Christ. These people need to hear that they don't actually have to “do anything” to be a Christian but to have faith in Jesus. And that all the “good works” that we do as Christians, flow out of the love that we have for Jesus because he forgave us and gave us internal life.

Good works are not the means of salvation, they are the fruit of salvation.

As for suffering and death, we want to keep it real. We want to acknowledge the reality of life and death and good and evil. But we want to assure them that God has a plan for all of it: Jesus Christ.

The wicked will be punished and those who put their faith in Christ will never die.

If somebody asks “why don't we live forever?” or “why do we have to die at all?” , we can assure them that they will live forever, through Christ, And to receive eternal life only requires that we humble ourselves, make Jesus our Lord and Savior, and enter into God’s Kingdom by faith.

As for suffering, Christ came to tell us that our suffering would not carry into His Kingdom. So, we want to point out that the suffering on this planet is temporary and many of which are caused by the evil of men's hearts.

Now for people like my friend’s daughter that might even be too much “theology”

So what do you do?

I advised my friend that if that's the case he can just back off, but that he can represent his Christian faith in his interactions with his daughter by showing her love, and by talking about how God is good and about all the things he's given us in our lives like:

·       our families, our friends

·       the love we've known

·       the good things we have experienced

·       the good in the world

and how all of those things were provided by God through His creation. If people focus on the evil in the world, we want to focus on the good and simple things like that.

We want to  emphasize the love of God because the love of God is real and the love of God can be experienced if we simply turn towards Him.

So I don't know if that helps anyone who may have qestions about how to deal with our unbelieving friends and family but I hope it does.

The key is to show him that you're not  completely insane and that you care about them. The Christian faith is reasonable and the only reason we want to share our faith is because we love others and we care about them and we want them to find the peace that we have found in our relationship with the Lord, through our faith in Christ.

The fard fact of life is that this life will end no matter what we think and no matter what we do but we don’t have to be afraid of death.  God has made a way to be forgiven and to live with Him forever. 

In Christ we have life everlasting, that starts now and a good place prepared for us by him in eternity.  So we want to lovingly encourage the ones we love to find it.

As we enter the weekend let's rejoice for the time off and use our time to enjoy our lives but while we do, let's thank the Lord for what he's done and let's shine a light of God's love for everyone to see.

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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: 

Matthew 25:21 (NLT2)
21  “The master was full of praise. ‘Well done, my good and faithful servant. You have been faithful in handling this small amount, so now I will give you many more responsibilities. Let’s celebrate together!’

Today’s verse comes from a parable of Jesus and encourages us to be faithful to use our talents for good and to accept the responsibilities that the Lord gives us with a spirit of celebration as our faithfulness will be rewarded.  

Jesus’ “parables of the talents” basically encourages to be faithful stewards of what God had given us with the assurance of rewards and a celebration when we see Him face to face.  As good as the news is for the “good and faithful servant”, it also shows us that the one servant who was afraid of the master and buried his talent instead of investing it was considered “wicked”!  

We are not to be fearful and hide “our talents”. We are to use them for God’s glory and if we do God will reward us and give us more to do for His kingdom. 

Often in life there is an escapist mentality where people just want to “do nothing” but this parable exposes how the Lord views that stance.  God gave us a life and he wants us to enjoy it and to use it to do good and to give Him glory. When don’t do that, we waste our lives and we encounter His wrath because we squandered our talents and hid for Him rather than acting in faith by trying to “do something” for the Lord.  

Doing nothing might be peaceful at times but our spirits will convict us about our laziness and wasting our lives and we will be filled with anxiety, guilt, and shame because we are not meeting our purpose and we have failed to have peace with God.  

So responsibility is actually a good thing, and the Christian shouldn’t cower in fear and avoid new challenges. The Christian should trust the Lord and accept the challenges begore them, do the best with the talents given to them,  and leave the results up to the Lord.    

_____________________________________________________________________

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.

Spiritism in Ephesus

The city of Ephesus was really not that different from any other city in the Hellenistic world. It did, however, have quite a reputation for being a center for magical practices. Luke reinforces that reputation by his account of the burning of the enormous amount of magical books (Acts 19:13–20). As discussed in chapter one, magic was concerned with manipulating the spirit world. It is based on a world view that sees spirits, both good and evil, involved in virtually every part of life.

Ephesus was also a city famous for its patron deity, Artemis of Ephesus. The Ephesian Artemis was worshiped as a goddess of the underworld. She was also believed to wield effective power over the spirits in nature and wildlife. The signs of the zodiac on her cultic image reassured her worshipers that she was a cosmic deity who had influence over the astral spirits who controlled the unfolding of fate. Ephesus was not only the city of Artemis; at least forty-four other deities were worshiped in this city.

It was precisely these kind of people—magical practitioners and worshipers of Artemis and countless other gods—who were becoming Christians and joining the churches in the area. It is too easy to read the book of Ephesians through our own cultural lenses and fail to grasp the nature and magnitude of the issues facing these young first-century Christians. Although they would have longed to give their devotion to Christ, the pull to syncretize their Christianity with other practices and beliefs would have been intense. With regard to the issue of the demonic, the Ephesian readers had far more in common with non-Western cultures than they do with those of us in the West.

Quite likely Paul intended the epistle to the Ephesians to be read not only in Ephesus but also in a number of churches in the western part of Asia Minor. Ephesus is a good point of reference for us in looking at the Ephesians. It was the capital city of the province with a population of at least a quarter million people. It was a religious center and had strategic influence over all of Asia Minor. It had also been Paul’s base of operation during his nearly three-year stay in the province. The basic issues were the same throughout these western Asian churches. These new believers needed help in developing a Christian world view. They especially needed to know how to respond to the gods and goddesses they had formerly worshiped and the various astral, terrestrial and underworld spirits they had feared.

I have written a book-length treatment on Paul’s letter to the Ephesians, where I contend that this epistle is occasioned in part by Paul’s special concern to address the needs of people coming to Christ from a background of what today we would call “occultic” beliefs. This explains why the principalities and powers and the theme of spiritual warfare receives more attention in Ephesians than in any of his other letters. Ephesians then becomes the pivotal letter in comprehending Paul’s thought on the issue of principalities and powers.

Christ, the Powers and the Power of God

Paul wanted his readers to entertain no doubt that Christ is superior to the powers they feared and had once served. Knowing that his readers would be tempted to doubt the superiority and all-sufficiency of Christ, Paul prayed that God would open their eyes so they could see the incomparably great power of the God of the Lord Jesus Christ. His prayer became an elaboration on the mighty power of God: “That power is like the working of his mighty strength, which he exerted in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms.” Paul did not stop here. He went on to draw the implications of the exaltation of Christ to the status of the powers. Christ is “far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every title that can be given, not only in the present age but also in the one to come.” The powers are especially in view when Paul says, “God placed all things under his feet and appointed him to be head over everything for the church” (Eph 1:19–22).

Anticipating his summons to spiritual warfare, Paul prayed for God’s strength to be imparted to all of his believing readers. He prayed that “out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being” (Eph 3:16). Having prayed for them, he can then admonish his readers at the end of the letter to “be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power” (Eph 6:10). God’s power is essential not only for resisting the influence of the powers of Satan, but also for manifesting love in the Christian community and living according to the ethical standards that Paul laid down.

The mighty resurrection power of God is available to believers. Paul encouraged Christians to draw on this power for daily living. In Asia Minor the believers had to develop an entirely new perspective on divine power. Their perverted understanding of the supernatural needed to be purified by growing in the knowledge of the one true God and why he would impart his power to people.

First, the source of this power is new. They have been reconciled to Yahweh, the “one God and Father of all” (Eph 4:5). He is the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, but also the God of the Lord Jesus Christ. He is supreme and has no competitors. All the former deities they once served must be forsaken and regarded as the manifestations and work of the evil principalities and powers.

Second, these believers were directed to a new and unique means of access to divine power. A magical formula or recipe will not manipulate God. He is a personal God who communes with his people and seeks a relationship with his own. This fellowship with God does not come through some mystical absorption into a deity and through a mystery ritual or any other means. It comes by the access made to God through the work of Jesus Christ on the cross (Eph 2:18). Believers have been brought into a very close union with the Lord Jesus Christ, which Paul most commonly refers to as being “in Christ.” Such is the closeness and solidarity of this bond that believers can consider themselves to have been coresurrected and coexalted with Christ (Eph 2:6). This is the basis for the new identity of believers and the foundation for their sharing in Christ’s authority over the powers of evil.

Third, there is a new purpose for imparting divine power to people. No longer are believers to use supernatural power to inflict harm or for self-centered ends. God’s power is imparted to believers to enable them to lead selfless lives. Believers are called to exercise the kind of sacrificial love that was modeled on the cross (Eph 5:2). In the eyes of the world, this is impossible. And, although Satan and his powers will seek to prevent it, God’s power strengthens believers even to love selflessly.[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), 149–152.