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

Friday, January 21, 2022

Remember the Time – The Book of Answered Prayers - Purity 634

Remember the Time – The Book of Answered Prayers - Purity 634

Purity 634 01/21/2022   Purity 634 Podcast

Good morning,

Today’s photo of a blue cloud filled sky over the beach at Lake Taghkanic State Park in Ancram NY comes to us from yours truly as I captured this scene on August 30th in 2020.  At that time I had only just recently gotten my new house “down by The River”, was still working two jobs, and the Covid-19 pandemic was still relatively new, so the number of people allowed into State Parks was limited. I didn’t have a lot of spare time in those days and this day was the only time in 2020 that I was able to go swimming recreationally. Even though I had to wear a mask when I wasn’t in the water, I remember having an overwhelming sense of victory that despite all of the struggles in my personal life and with the restrictions of 2020 I was able to overcome and enjoy my life.  This simple swimming excursion told me that the Covid-19 pandemic and all the things I had come against hadn’t beaten me and I knew that it was only because of my faith in God that I was able to go through it all with joy and peace despite the negative circumstances.   

Well, it’s Friday and as I tell  the men in the discipleship course I facilitate on Thursday nights, I encourage you to start your days with the practice of gratitude.  When we recall all the things we have overcome and all the things we have, we can thank God for a lot more than just the fact that it is Friday and we can start each day with the recognition that, because of God, our lives are actually quite wonderful.   

Last night, I enjoyed the benefits of being a part of a Christian men’s group who are actively seeking the Lord and their freedom in Christ, as I asked each man to recall a time in their lives when they chose to trust their faith rather than their feelings. Their testimonies were all examples of how the Lord will call you to do things that you are uncertain of but when you trust Him and obey what He says the results are always good, but what I was inspired by is how those positive results gave these men a means to grow in their faith and to trust the Lord to follow Him in larger and larger measures.  

One of the men reported that he kept a journal that documented all the times that God was faithful in his life. He called it his “book of answered prayers”. He stated that through the years he had documented 68 instances where God had answered his prayers in mighty ways.  He kept this book to testify of the Lord’s goodness and as a reminder to himself to continue to trust the Lord.   

Of all those 68 answered prayers, he shared the story of how the Lord answered his daughters’ prayers when they were young, and their story is amazing in not only the results but in their faithful perseverance in prayer.   

When his daughters were quite young, I think it was 6 and 4 years old (forgive me), they made a friend who wasn’t a Christian who they dearly loved.  So as Christians with child like faith, they began praying that their friend would make Jesus their Lord and Savior.  They didn’t get immediate results but because they loved their friend, they kept on praying. My friend was amazed by their faith but encouraged them to keep at it. So praying for their friend became a normal part of their evening routine and they continued in it for years.  

Our friend shared that about five years later, him and his family were invited by their daughter’s friend’s family to come and watch as not only this daughter who was prayed  for  five years to proclaim their faith in Jesus Christ and to be baptized, but for that girl’s entire family to proclaim their faith in Christ and to be baptized!

And as awesome that is, our friend said that this move of God further inspired his and his family’s faith and now it can inspire you like it does me.   

Yesterday, I was running errands in the county I grew up in and as I drove, I had phantom memories of mistakes I have made and some people I had hurt. That condemnation came quick, but I quickly reminded myself that those mistakes were made by a desperate and confused teenager and that I was no longer that person.

As I was driving and listening to Christian music, the Spirit of the Lord came upon me, and I was overwhelmed with a flood of emotion that drove me to tears of joy as I was reminded of the goodness of God. I continued to praise and worship as the tears flowed and the Lord reminded me of all He had led me through.  And this Holy Spirit driven emotional praise and worship session, also reminded me of the Lord’s continual presence in our lives.  

These stories of the faithfulness of God, our remembrances, our experiences serve two purposes. They are to be used by us to motivate ourselves to continue to trust the Lord in our daily walk and they are to be shared with others to encourage them, to let them know that God is real, alive, and well, and deeply loves them.  

So keep walking and talking with God and remember the times that He delivered you and remember the stories of others that were helped by Him too and thank the Lord for all He has done and will do and Thank God it’s Friday.

 

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

This morning’s meditation verses are:

Psalm 112:5-8 (NLT2)
5  Good comes to those who lend money generously and conduct their business fairly.
6  Such people will not be overcome by evil. Those who are righteous will be long remembered.
7  They do not fear bad news; they confidently trust the LORD to care for them.
8  They are confident and fearless and can face their foes triumphantly.

Today’s verses teach us to live generously and righteously as a product of our trust in the Lord.   

Ironically, last night one of the other men in our group testified about hard times where they were moved to give money to help family when they desperately needed the money for their rent.  They were moved by the Lord to give the money anyway and soon after they did another person replaced those funds with a gift, not knowing of the sacrifice that they had just made.    

The same man also spoke of God’s providence at another time when his family needed to leave their home because of a financial crisis and find a new place to live.  The man received a dream in which he was assured that he would find a good place and that his family would be there for many years.   

Shortly after the dream, he found an available unit in a condominium that he had looked at previously with no luck. It was a nice place, but he feared that if they checked his credit report he would be summarily rejected. Instead of suspicion, he was met with hospitality and acceptance, as his family was welcomed into their new home with no credit check. They have lived there for 20 years, fulfilling God’s promise that he would find a good place and they would be there for years to come.    

These testimonies prove today’s verse to be true. We are to lend money generously, conduct our business fairly, and live righteously by following the Lord and trusting to live according to His ways. If we do that we will not be overcome by evil, and we need not live in fear of bad news because we can confidently trust that the Lord will care for us. 

So be confident and fearless and face your foes triumphantly, because when we make Christ our Lord and Savior and live a Christian disciple’s life, we will know that the Lord is with us and that He will make a way when there seems to be no way.  In Christ, we can know the Lord’s care and know that when that the going gets tough He will come for us in our time of need.  


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

Today we continue to share from Dr. Neil Anderson’s . “Restored: Experience Life with Jesus”. Today, we continue sharing from Chapter 5.   

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

TRUST GOD’S PROTECTION

Daniel also taught us to trust in God’s protection and provision when we cannot in good conscience do what the king commands. King Darius was persuaded to “establish a statute and enforce an injunction that anyone who makes a petition to any god or man besides you, O king, for thirty days, shall be cast into the lions’ den.”105 Daniel could not honor that decree, and so he continued to pray and give thanks to almighty God. He ended up in the lions’ den, and the Lord shut the mouths of the lions.

If your boss wants you to lie, don’t be disrespectful. Appeal to him or her as outlined above and offer an alternative. What if the boss won’t accept your alternative and says, “If you won’t do what I tell you to do, then I will get someone in here who will?” Then let him or her get someone who will, and trust God to provide for your needs.

DEAL WITH ABUSE

What if the authority figure is abusive? Is it being rebellious to turn him in? Absolutely not! It is wrong for Christian leaders to tell battered wives and abused children to go home and be submissive. “But that is what Scripture requires,” says the abuser. That is not all Scripture says on the issue. God has established governing institutions to protect battered wives and abused children.

The heart of God goes out to the weak and the defenseless. “This is pure and undefiled religion in the sight of our God and Father, to visit orphans and widows in their distress.”106

Turn the abusers in to the authorities whom God has established. This action is not being vindictive for two reasons. First, abusive leaders have obviously abdicated their responsibility to provide for and protect those whom they were charged by God to watch over. Being abused by the one in authority over you doubles the offense. Not only are you being abused, but you have also lost your God-intended protection.

Second, you will never help abusers by allowing them to continue in their abuses. They are hurting people who need help. If they aren’t stopped, the cycle of abuse will just continue on. Stopping them actually demonstrates care for the abusers. They have a right to find their forgiveness and freedom in Christ like anybody else, but many won’t take that opportunity if they are allowed to continue in sin. If you were abused by your father, and your mother knew about it, but wouldn’t do anything to help you, who would be harder to forgive? Everybody knows it would be the mother.

I am not saying that we don’t have to be submissive to people in positions of authority simply because they are not perfect. If that were the case, nobody would be submissive to anyone but God. What I am saying is that there is a biblical means by which we can appeal to those less-than-perfect people who are in authority, and there are times when we must obey God rather than man. Determining when to reject man’s authority requires discernment and a deep inner conviction based on truth that cannot be compromised regardless of the consequences. You are acting rebelliously if you refuse to submit simply because you would prefer to do it your way.

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

Join our “Victory over the Darkness” or “The Bondage Breaker” series of Discipleship Classes via the mt4christ247 podcast!

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

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

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

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

Encouragement for the Path of Christian Discipleship

Thursday, January 20, 2022

Jesus Trusts in Us? The Key to Discipleship - Purity 633


 Jesus Trusts in Us?  The Key to Discipleship  - Purity 633

Purity 633 01/20/2022  

Good morning,

Today’s photo of a blue cumulus cloud filled sky over County Route 26A in Stuyvesant NY comes to us from September 10th, 2021 and yours truly as I was moved to pull over to capture this simple but beautiful scene of a roadway disappearing around a bend.    

Well, It’s Thursday and I take photos like this one, of pathways, to encourage others to step onto the path of Christian Discipleship as I will be facilitating a Men’s Freedom in Christ Discipleship Course Discussion on Zoom this evening.  Christian Discipleship is always on my mind because I live it and on Thursdays I encourage others to discover the abundant life that is the result of living it. Discipleship is a lifestyle of learning, application, and purpose.

Dictionary.com defines discipleship as the condition or situation of being a disciple, a follower, or a student of some philosophy, especially a follower of Jesus Christ. 

I love the fact that this site acknowledges that one of the best examples of what defines discipleship is the follower of Jesus Christ.   In this age of post Christian society and cultural diversity that is moving us toward the end times, instances of Christ being mentioned or respected will become less and less so its nice to see that His example hasn’t been erased just yet. (https://www.dictionary.com/browse/discipleship)

The second definition that the website lists is “the group of followers of Christ in His lifetime”.   I put that one in quotes. His lifetime, capital H! The use of a capital H in the personal pronouns of He, Him, Himself or a capital Y in You or Your when referring to Jesus Christ is done to admit and acknowledge His exalted status as God.   So Dictionary.com not only glorifies Jesus Christ as the example of discipleship but it also unwittingly testifies to His deity.   

Again in this post Christian world that’s nice to see. So let the countdown begin, for someone to complain and demand these references to Jesus be removed.   Hey if they can ban nativity displays in the public square and remove the Ten Commandments from courthouses, they can certainly edit a few lines on a dictionary website.

Amazingly, my surprise and joy didn’t end there.  For the second definition, dictionary.com provided an example of its use which said:

“The key to Jesus’ discipleship was his personal trust in his disciples.”  Okay small h’s but I’ll take it. 

While the natural born skeptic in me could point to how one of Jesus’ disciples betrayed Him and how the other Apostles, in fear of their lives, abandoned Christ, so much for trusting those disciples, I would agree with this example of what the key to discipleship is: trust.  

Discipleship is not only a condition or a situation. Discipleship is a relationship and like all beneficial relationships it is built on trust.   The disciple has to trust that the discipler is teaching something worthwhile and that the lessons they learn will have a benefit to their lives. 

Also, as dictionary.com’s example for usage points out, the discipler has to trust the disciple too.  The discipler has to trust that the disciples will absorb what they are taught and will be faithful to apply the teachings to their lives to represent what they have learned.  

Jesus Christ trusted His disciples to be true their calling and He did so with the knowledge that one of them would betray Him.  And despite the other Apostle’s failures when Christ was arrested, they showed themselves to be faithful followers of Jesus Christ by establishing the early church with all but one of them going to early deaths as martyrs for the cause of Christ.   

A discipler can’t make their disciples learn or follow the teachings they impart. The responsibility for the absorption and application of the wisdom taught is the sole responsibility of the disciple.

As Christians, we are not just supposed to be believers in Jesus. We are supposed to be Christ’s disciples. We are supposed to learn about Him and His teachings and apply them to our lives in a way that would represent Him.   

When we do less than that, those outside of the faith are right to point out our hypocrisy.

As someone who came to faith in Jesus Christ relatively late in life, I decided that I would do my best to learn and to follow the teachings of Jesus Christ because I knew of the tremendous gift that I had been given in my salvation and I didn’t want to be someone who could be accused of being a hypocrite.  I wanted to be a real authentic Christian and God has worked in my life to slowly progress towards that goal.   

One term that is used in the Bible that is used to describe living a Christian Disciple’s life is “walking in the Spirit”.  When we walk in the Spirit, the fruit of the Spirit of peace, love, joy, goodness, kindness, gentleness, faithfulness, patience and self-control begin to grow in our lives but it is our responsibility to walk into them.   

As Christians, we are disciples of Christ and, just like Jesus trusted the original Apostles, He is trusting us to answer His call and follow Him.  

So be true to the calling that the Lord has put on your life. His words and example are trustworthy and will lead you into a life of victory, freedom, and purpose that leads to an abundant life of experiencing the fruit of the Spirit here on earth and will eventually take you to the ultimate good of being welcomed into His eternal kingdom.   Trust in Christ and represent Him as His disciple and experience the peace that comes from knowing that you are in a harmonious and trusting relationship with God.


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

This morning’s meditation verse is:

Philippians 4:13 (NLT2)
13  For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength.

Today’s verse is one of those verses that can empower your faith walk and inspire you to accomplish things you never dreamed of and to shift the paradigms that the world has programmed you with.  

Many Bible scholars temper this verse by encouraging Christians to look at the context of this epistle to point out that the Apostle Paul was describing both living abundantly and going through quite a bit of suffering and that if the context is properly understood we might not use this verse as a magical incantation that will guarantee us of our success. 

This verse isn’t supposed to echo the America song “You Can Do Magic”  that says “You can do magic, You can have anything that you desire.”  That song was talking about the magic of seduction.. so anyway.  

Okay, so no we shouldn’t necessarily think that saying this verse will give us anything we want.  However,  I don’t think an understanding of the context of this verse necessarily negates the ability for our faith in God to overcome and achieve great things.  

The biggest lie that the enemy tells us to discourage our victory and our pursuing our purpose in Christ is that something is impossible.   I’ll say it again. The biggest lie that the enemy tells us is that something is impossible.   

If we temper the power of our faith and try to discourage our brothers and sisters in Christ from pursuing what they feel the Lord is calling them to we could be supporting the enemy’s agenda.   

If we don’t try, we may never discover what we can do. If we don’t preserve, we may never discover what the Lord has for us on the other side of our trials.  

While today’s verse won’t give you all the material blessings you may want in life, it can empower you to become more like Christ and the context of this verse does not temper that promise.  We need to know that we can do everything through Christ when we are suffering.  This word from God can be applied at all times and in every season of life.  

Rather than a Christian “abracadabra”, it is a word from the Lord to encourage us to follow Him regardless of the circumstance and to live our lives according to His wisdom and ways.       

 

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

Today we continue to share from Dr. Neil Anderson’s . “Restored: Experience Life with Jesus”. Today, we continue sharing from Chapter 5.   

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

RELATING TO AUTHORITY

Daniel is a powerful example of submission. It could be argued that King Nebuchadnezzar overstepped his authority by requiring Daniel and his people to do something that went against their faith. Notice how Daniel responded. He showed respect to the king and those who carried out the king’s commands. Nebuchadnezzar wanted those who were in his service to eat the food he chose. Daniel did not want to defile himself with the king’s food, so he sought permission from his immediate superior to eat as God required, as long as he remained healthy enough to be a servant of the King, which is all the King really wanted. Because he was not defiant, nor disrespectful, “God granted Daniel favor and compassion in the sight of the commander of the officials.”94 Daniel offered a creative alternative that allowed the commander to save face in the sight of the king and to also fulfill the wishes of the king to have wise and healthy servants.

The Lord’s Prayer95 is a model for how we are to appeal to those who are in authority over us. First, we must have a right standing, which is reflected in the phrase, “Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be Thy name.” In most judicial systems, we must approach the judge in a court of law with respect. It would be considered contempt of court if we didn’t. We respectfully address the judge as “Your honor.”

If there are any unresolved personal issues between yourself and the one you wish to make an appeal to, you better get them resolved first. That is true for our God as well as judges in courts of law or supervisors at work. We couldn’t approach God until He found a way to forgive us, and any judge who is personally biased toward or against the accused must remove himself from the case. If a teenager has been disrespectful and disobedient to his father, he should get that straightened out before he asks for the keys to the car.

Second, we should be committed to the success of those who are in authority and willing to do their will as long as it doesn’t violate who we are in Christ. This principle is reflected in the phrase, “Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven” (v. 10). We must do nothing that would hinder them from carrying out their God-given responsibilities. People in leadership cannot accomplish much without the loyal support of those who are under them. Those who are in a submissive role will not prosper in their rebellion. Scripture says, “Obey your leaders, and submit to them; for they keep watch over your souls, as those who will give an account.

Let them do this with joy and not with grief, for this would be unprofitable for you.”96

One of Satan’s more potent strategies is to discredit spiritual leaders. Your loyalty to those who are in authority over you will be tested. This fact is especially true in Christian ministries and in the home. Everybody will be tempted with subtle thoughts such as: I don’t like the way he did that; I could do it better than that; This is what I would do if I were in that position; or I’m the one who should be running the show around here. It doesn’t make any difference if those thoughts come from the pit, from other disloyal members or from your own flesh; they are wrong according to James 3:13-18:

Who among you is wise and understanding? Let him show by his good behavior his deeds in the gentleness of wisdom. But if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your heart, do not be arrogant and so lie against the truth. This wisdom is not that which comes down from above, but is earthly, natural, demonic. For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there is disorder and every evil thing. But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, reasonable, full of mercy and good fruits, unwavering, without hypocrisy. And the seed whose fruit is righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace.

Most leaders will listen to our appeals if they know we are concerned for their responsibilities and their reputations. The Lord withheld judgment upon the Israelites when Moses petitioned Him. He based his appeal on the reputation of God.97 God can only bless us if we are submissive, 98 and in doing so, we find favor with Him.99 Life will be more difficult for us if the ones we are serving are failing in their responsibilities. Every passage that commands us to be submissive ends in a promise for the ones who are—and condemnation for those who aren’t.

Third, our appeals must be based on legitimate needs. This principle is reflected in the phrase, “Give us this day our daily bread.”100 Every leader is subject to the needs of those he serves, and the Lord will bring conviction upon those who do not hear the legitimate cries of their people. However, requests for selfish desires may justifiably go unanswered. Few things can turn off a parent more than an ungrateful child who demands more than what is needed.

Fourth, our appeals must come from hearts that are free from bitterness. This principle is reflected in the phrase, “And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.”101 Anyone who has allowed a root of bitterness to spring up and defile others should not expect favor from those who are in authority. When Simon requested authority from the apostles, Peter refused saying, “You are in the gall of bitterness and in the bondage of iniquity.”102

Fifth, our appeals should be for proper direction in life, which is reflected in the phrase, “And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from evil.”103 Every

human institution has been given its authority by God “for the punishment of evildoers and the praise of those who do right.”104

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

Join our “Victory over the Darkness” or “The Bondage Breaker” series of Discipleship Classes via the mt4christ247 podcast!

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

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

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

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

Encouragement for the Path of Christian Discipleship

Wednesday, January 19, 2022

Uncle Cookie?! – When Needs Become Wants - Purity 632





Uncle Cookie?! – When Needs Become Wants - Purity 632

Purity 632 01/19/2022  Purity 632 Podcast

Good morning,

Today’s photo of the snowy peak of Whiteface Mountain under a crisp and clear blue sky comes to from a friend who actively was cheering for the white stuff to fall from the sky since the end of November and now we know why, he’s a skier!

While there is a lot of grumbling and anxiety that is expressed about coming snowstorms, our friend has a different perspective. The snow allows them to do something they love so they see the accumulation of snow in a different light. I am sharing a couple of other photos on mt4christ.org this morning that feature some other beautiful views from our friend’s skiing excursion from this past weekend and they are worth checking out.   



Well it’s Wednesday and I chose this one to feature because it is a perfect representation of the midweek hump that we will ascend, summit, and overcome by day’s end. I also chose it because of our friend’s different perspective regarding snowy weather.  

A huge part of cultivating the fruit of the Spirit of peace and joy in our lives has to do with our perspective and the key to victory is to first embrace our identity in Christ and a Christian worldview that recognizes that God is sovereign over and above all things and that His word is true.  When we come into alignment with God’s perspective, we see our lives and the world in a whole new light.  

But the success of our victory goes beyond just knowing who we are in Christ and knowing who God is. To overcome the world, the flesh, and the devil, we have to examine our lives and see what idols we still have in our lives after coming to faith in Jesus Christ.  

An idol would be something we worship. I am not talking about a statue of Buddha or anything like that but if you do have something like that in your home and you are a Christian, I would encourage you to follow the examples of the people of God in the Bible who tore idols down and destroyed them, by throwing them in the trash.  There are not many pathways to God and if something is not of Christ, it is anti-Christ and represents the kingdom of darkness no matter of sweet, kind, or endearing other religions may seem that makes them all the more sinister as they attempt to lead you to road of perdition. 

No, the idols that may be in our lives that we worship instead of God can be things like money, our families, our careers, our possessions, our bodies, our accomplishments, our relationships, sex, food, drugs, or alcohol.

If you notice, a lot of these things are things we need. We need relationships, a career, a family, a purpose, our bodies, love, and food.  Some would say we as a race we would need sex too.  I would agree that sex allows us to have a family of our own, to continue the human race, and that sex is also a way a husband and wife can express their love for one another in the confines of God’s only approved sexual relationship, a marriage.  

The problems that we face in life often result from when we make these needs idols in our lives and go to them to find our sense of acceptance, significance, and security when we should receive those things in our relationship with God.  

God will never fail us but those other needs that become idols eventually will.   

A true sign of one of these things becoming an idol in our lives is when one of these needs become a “want” : when these things become more important to you than your relationship with the Lord or they result in negative consequences and negative feelings. 

Recently, my struggles with food came abundantly clear to me as I officially ended the food plan I was on back in September with the rationale that it was too expensive and that I could take the principles that I learned from it and do it on my own with inexpensive alternatives.  

But as time progressed, I began to compromise my convictions and overindulged or ate the wrong kinds of food.  My view of food changed from something I needed to something I wanted and in several instances I ended up in the addictive cycle of binging on sweets and then feeling guilt and shame.

Unfortunately, I actually hardened my heart against these convictions and in a real spirit of rebellion of “I want what I want”, I continued in my sweet binging ways to the point that my new nephews and niece game me the nickname “Uncle Cookie” after a shameless display of sampling and then devouring a large amount of that delectable treat at their home in December. Aren’t the holidays, great!   

So after the reckless abandon of my need becoming a “want” to the exclusion of self-control, to the extent that I even had instances of shamefully tried to hide my snacking like an addict, I was eventually pulled out of the darkness by a spiritual discipline and tradition of my local church. 

Although I have been “released” from Rock Solid church, it was the church that created an environment where I was able to grow in my faith and to be transformed.  So whenever I refer to it, I will not call it “my former church” and although I do attend services at Starpoint church now, I will continue to call Rock Solid, “my local church” or “my church” going forward. 

Anyway, my church, Rock Solid church, and its leadership, obviously had a big impact on my life, and one spiritual discipline that they encourage is fasting.   Each new year, the church holds a corporate fast and encourages its members to develop a personal fast where they devote the time they would be eating to seeking the Lord and His guidance.  There are no “rules” in terms of how you fast. You choose your own way. Be it a meal a day, or certain foods, each person decides what and if they will fast.  

I have experience in fasting because of this tradition and was thankful for the reminder of how I could repent of my sins of the flesh.  So on January 3rd, I began fasting.  I only drink water and other liquids when I fast and after the first week I knew I decided the right course for the new year.  

I must have gained 20 plus pounds in the three months I indulged my food addiction, and I am happy to say that because of the fasting I have nearly returned to where I was back in September in terms of my weight.   But more importantly, my eyes have been opened to the insidiousness of my food addiction and the depths of depravity that my indulgences led to.   I desire to be healthy and what I was doing was not healthy and my behavior showed the classic patterns of addiction. 

So, I thank the Lord for the clarity He has given me and the newfound conviction to continue in my intention to be healthy and crucify the flesh through the renewing of my mind and the changing of how I view food.  

Fasting has given me a renewed spirit and has assisted me in regaining some ground in the battle of the bulge but in order to continue on my path to optimal health, I will have to change my perspective and examine what works and doesn’t work in terms of eating.  

You can’t abstain from the things you “love”.  “Yeah I don’t drink anymore but man do I love it!”  That’s a recipe for disaster. We can’t play nice with the things that would destroy us.  We need to have a truly accurate view of what these things did to us and remember the pain that accompanied their pleasures.  We need to change our perspective and live with it.  

So I don’t know if have idols in your life. I don’t know if you have made some of your “needs” into “wants” that are causing you to feel bad about yourself. But if you do I can tell you that God doesn’t want you to be in bondage. God wants what’s best for you and if you examine your life and find something that is out of balance, God can help you to be free of it by giving you His love, strength, and guidance.  

So don’t beat yourself up, nobody’s perfect except for Jesus.  But don’t stay in the muck and mire of confusion when God will lift you up and put you on solid ground. So take that hand He is offering you and keep walking and talking with God because it is only through Him where we can change our minds, our hearts, and our lives.

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

This morning’s meditation verse is:

Daniel 3:17 (NLT2)
17  If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God whom we serve is able to save us. He will rescue us from your power, Your Majesty.

Today’s verse highlights the unshakable faith of Daniel when he was faced with a punishment that would almost certainly lead to His death.   

Our resource, “The NLT Bible Promise Book for Men” shares today’s verse under the heading of “Confidence” and I’m glad it does because that means they are highlighting Daniel’s faith here. 

Yesterday’s verse Psalm 121: 8 highlighted the fact that God will watch over us and I had to go back to see if this verse was being used to focus on God’s protection because if it was I was going to have to point to the harsh reality that sometimes God allows suffering and death in our lives, which could lead us to the false conclusion that God doesn’t protect us.  So don’t go around testing God by telling people to throw you into a fiery furnace, today’s verse isn’t a promise that no harm will befall us. 

Today’s verse is an illustration of the type of faith that we are supposed to have as Christian: the type of faith that will not renounce our God even in the face of death.   

So why was Daniel so “confident”?  He was confident because He knew the Lord, had a devoted practice of worshiping Him in prayer, and he had experienced the Lord’s providence before.  He loved the Lord so much because of what He had done for him that the idea of renouncing His faith was so distasteful that He would rather die than to dishonor God.  

Did Daniel know he would be saved?  Nope. The next verse in Daniel tells us he was ready to die, where Daniel said:

Daniel 3:18 (NLT2)
18  But even if he doesn’t, we want to make it clear to you, Your Majesty, that we will never serve your gods or worship the gold statue you have set up.”

Talking about rejecting idols and false belief systems! Daniel had the “God perspective” and knew that even if He did die, he would live in God’s kingdom for all eternity.   

So stand fast in your faith and be confident that, with God, we receive His eternal protection and the ability to overcome this world and all the things that would threaten to destroy us. 

 

 

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

Today we continue to share from Dr. Neil Anderson’s . “Restored: Experience Life with Jesus”. Today, we continue sharing from Chapter 5.   

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

LEARN TO TRUST GOD

Beth was raised in a legalistic church-going family. When she met and married Todd, who was a Christian, she fully expected that her life would be satisfying and that he would be able to meet all of her needs. Her fantasy faded as the marriage failed. Disillusioned and angry with her parents and husband, Beth developed a deep distrust of God. This attitude led to open rebellion and despair. She dabbled in false religions and adopted a worldly lifestyle.

She was given some of my books and tapes, but for months she was afraid to read them and listen to them. Through loving persuasion, she reached out for help, and she was taken through the Steps to Freedom.

The changes in her life are beautiful. The rebellious spirit is gone, and she said, “I feel like I’m in love.” And she is in love...with Jesus the lover of her soul. Before, she tried to “make things happen” by attempting to control people or situations in the hope that her needs would be met. But she gave up her struggle for self-fulfillment, and now the Lord is filling her with a growing sense of peace and security. She said, “I no longer want the things I used to crave for; I just want to know Jesus better.”

When we attempt to take things into our own hands, we have the feeling of being in control. But what or who are we really controlling? Did we have control of when we were born? To whom we were born? Where we were born? When we will die? Do we have the right or ability to control other people and the circumstances of life so that everything becomes beneficial to ourselves? No, the only real control we have is deciding whom we will serve. Paradoxically, only when we surrender completely to God do we have self-control.90

LIVING UNDER AUTHORITY

The Lord said, “Rebellion is as the sin of divination [witchcraft], and insubordination is as iniquity and idolatry.”91 Defiance against authority places us in the camp of the enemy and subject to his influences. The god of this world, the prince of power of the air, is roaring around like a hungry lion seeking someone to devour. God says, “Get in ranks and follow Me. You are under My protection if you are under My authority.” Satan was the originator of rebellion, so when we rebel, we are following his lead. If people truly understood the reality of the spiritual world and the choice they are making, they would immediately renounce any rebellion and submit to God.

We live in a rebellious age. Everyone sits in judgment of those who are in positions of authority over them. We go to church and critique the choir or the music instead of entering into the experience of worshiping God. We sit in judgment of the sermon instead of letting the sermon sit in judgment of us. How many times have you heard people coming out of church criticizing the music or the message? We are critical of our president, our governors, our pastors, our teachers, our spouses, and our parents.

We are commanded by God to submit to and pray for those who are in authority over us. The Apostle Paul wrote, “Let every person be in subjection to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those which exist are established by God. Therefore he who resists authority has opposed the ordinance of God; and they who have opposed will receive condemnation upon themselves.”92 God’s desire is that we yield ourselves to Him and demonstrate this allegiance by being submissive to those He placed in authority over us. We surrender our right to rule and trust God to work through His established lines of authority for our good. It is a great act of faith to trust God to work through less than perfect people. Actually you are submitting to their position of authority, not the person.

Scripture does teach that there are times when we must obey God rather than man. When governing authorities require us to do something that God commands us not to do, or try to prevent us from doing something that God requires us to do, then we must obey God rather than man, as did the members of the Early Church in special occasions.93 We also have no obligation to obey people who try to exercise authority outside their jurisdictions. Your employer or school teacher has no right to tell you what to do in your own home. A policeman cannot tell you what to believe or where to go to church, but he can tell you to pull your car over and give you a ticket if you are breaking the law.

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

Join our “Victory over the Darkness” or “The Bondage Breaker” series of Discipleship Classes via the mt4christ247 podcast!

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

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

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

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

Encouragement for the Path of Christian Discipleship


Tuesday, January 18, 2022

A Cloud by Day to Guide Us – Will You Follow? Purity 631


A Cloud by Day to Guide Us – Will You Follow?  Purity 631

Purity 631 01/18/2022  Purity 631 Podcast

Good morning,

Today’s photo of a sun illuminated cloud floating over a marina, a stone wall, and green grass comes to us from a friend whose identity will remain safely hidden because I am not able to recall who they were or where they captured this photo!

 But I had no sooner wrote that when just like that their name popped into my head. Not for nothing but I swear the Holy Spirit will “lead you into all truth” and apparently brought this little detail into remembrance.  This friend who our Heavenly Father will never forget actually has a real heart for God and serves the Lord with a Christian motorcycle ministry. I suspect that they may have been thinking about the Israelites being led by a cloud by day as they wandered through the desert, or maybe the glory cloud that filled the temple in Exodus 40,  when they capture this photo while on vacation in St. Augustine, Florida back in December of 2021.   

Well it’s Tuesday and no matter if someone has forgotten your name or where you are from I can assure you that just because you can’t see anyone with you and you may feel all alone, i you have made Christ your Lord and Savior, I can assure you that you are never alone. The question is: will you reach out to try to communicate with the One who will never leave you or forsake you? And if He speaks, will you listen and follow His lead?    

As someone who has been led out of his own personal desert of addiction, depression, anxiety, and anger and who has been preaching and teaching the gospel and the benefits of a life of Christian discipleship for years, I am blessed when people think to reach out to me for advice or for prayer and in either case I am quick to give it.

Social media can tell you a lot about what is going on in someone’s life. As much as most of us try to present a positive image of ourselves on social media, the hurting don’t seem to have the presence of mind to consider how they will be perceived or just don’t care and share everything that is going on in their lives.    

Changing relationship statuses, late night nearly unintelligible posts, and bitter or angry memes show us that people are hurting. Unfortunately, most of us seek happiness through relationships, substances, or the accumulation of material things or experiences and may discover, like I did, that none of those things provide lasting satisfaction or a sense of fulfillment.    

We can go through our life building up a home or a career to meet our physical and emotional needs but have no consideration for our spiritual need to know God and to be in a harmonious relationship with Him.  

So when I see that friends are clearly suffering through the subtle or not so subtle hints they leave on social media, I will say a quick prayer for them to seek the Lord because I know that pestering someone with advice when they don’t want it is an exercise in futility and because I know that a relationship with God through faith in Jesus Christ is the only thing that can truly heal and fulfill a person.  

In my experience, some people will humble themselves and ask for help but many times they will receive it, have some victory because of their coming to God in repentance, and will have success over their current crisis but then when the storm settles they walk away from our fellowship and invariably I will see those signs on social media again that indicate that they are back in the things that they had victory over when they were following the Lord.  

If you were in the desert and being led by a cloud from oasis to oasis, would you decide to go your own way?     

Amazingly, the answer for some is a hearty rebellious: “Yes!”

God doesn’t force you to follow Him. He allows us to go our own way even when our way is headed for pain or destruction.  But He is also a merciful God and when we survive the consequences of our selfish and foolish choices, He will leave the door open to welcome us back home.  

So if you unwittingly or willfully stopped following the Lord’s guidance, for years or just for the a few months, weeks, or days, the good news is that He wants you to walk with Him again. You just have to reach out in prayer to the Lord to tell Him you recognize the error of your ways and to tell Him that you need His help and want to follow Him to wherever He wants to take you.  

They say the journey of a thousand miles begins with one step. So take that step today, and keep taking that step, and the Lord will guide you to the abundant life that is free of guilt, shame, regret, bitterness, anger, fear,  and even boredom.  God has a plan for your life and when you call on Him and seek His will and ways, He will reveal it to you.  

So start ,or keep, walking and talking with God. It’s the journey that leads from here  eternity so its best to start enjoying it now.     


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

This morning’s meditation verse is:

Psalm 121:8 (NLT2)
8  The LORD keeps watch over you as you come and go, both now and forever.

Or as the NKJV puts it:

Psalm 121:8 (NKJV)
8  The LORD shall preserve your going out and your coming in From this time forth, and even forevermore.

Wow, it’s funny how these random verses drawn from a Men’s devotional book seem to line up with the message every day. We spoke about our journey of faith and how the Lord will guide us if we simply ask Him for His help and agree to follow Him and sure enough today’s Bible verse speaks of our “going out” and “coming in”  and how the Lord will preserve us from this time forth and forevermore.  

The implication is, of course, that we will be walking with the Lord and not walking away from Him.  This is one of many Bible verses that speaks of the Lord’s protection of His people.  

For those in Christ, we are His people.  He gives us the ultimate protection of our salvation and will literally intervene for us at times through His providence and quite possible through miracles.  

But as someone who has suffered injury and disease after coming to Christ, I can tell you that we are not given spiritual bullet proof vests and that we are to still be good stewards of our bodies through exercise and good nutrition and by making wise choices with what we choose to do. 

Foolish choices have consequences. A mind preoccupied with negative emotions or things other than what we are doing at the time can cause us to not be careful and can lead to accidents and suffering.   

Yes, God is walking with you and will preserve your comings and goings, but our responsibility is to walk with Him and to use the gifts of observation and discernment to aide in the Lord’s protection of us.  

We can’t do something stupid and them turn to the Lord and say: “Why didn’t you protect me?”    We can’t engage in an unhealthy lifestyle and then ask the Lord: “Why did this health problem happen to me?”   

The Lord has created the world with natural laws of cause and effects and uses it to test and train us in wisdom.  So if negative effects befall us, we need to examine what happened and try to avoid similar outcomes in the future by  learning from our experiences.   

The Lord will protect us and preserve us but let’s be careful our there and rejoice over all the calamities that don’t happen to us and thank the Lord for giving us minds to think and eyes to see what we are doing wrong and the ability to change our ways to His ways.  


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

Today we continue to share from Dr. Neil Anderson’s . “Restored: Experience Life with Jesus”. Today, we begin sharing from Chapter 5.   

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

CHAPTER FIVE  -  OVERCOMING REBELLION

A young lady made an appointment with her pastor, hoping to resolve a relational issue in her family, but what surfaced during the Steps was an extremely abusive marriage that ended in divorce. She had remarried, but found herself in the same cycle of abuse. Her past training and the pressure of family and friends reinforced the false belief that submission is being passive to physical and emotional abuse. Her strategy for survival was crumbling as was her ability to cope.

Many like her spend their lives accommodating their abusers, hoping someday they will finally live up to their expectations and receive the acceptance and affirmation they believe they must have in order to be worthwhile people. However, ask yourself the question, “What if your mother, father, or spouse never accepted you or gave you the affirmation you believe you need?” That is a real possibility, but you don’t have to have their approval if you know who you are in Christ, because the God of this universe has already accepted and affirmed you. Others decide to do the opposite and make a conscious choice to never be pushed around again by anyone, and they become rebellious. Both the rebel and the co-dependent must find their identity, acceptance, security, and significance in Christ and become the person God created them to be.

WHO IS IN CONTROL?

Who would you say is in control of your life right now? Do you think you are? God never designed your soul to function as master. At any one moment, you are either serving “mammon” or God.88 The poet says, “I am the master of my fate and the captain of my soul.” Oh, no, he isn’t! Self-seeking, self-serving, self-justifying, self-glorifying, and self-centered living are in actuality serving the world, the flesh, and the devil, being deceived into thinking we are serving self.

Denying ourselves is the way of the Cross. Saying no to ourselves and yes to God is the ultimate struggle in life. Believing we are God is the biggest lie of all. It originated in the garden when Satan said, “You will be like God.”89 Trying to be or play God is the biggest mistake we can make. It seems so sacrificial to surrender all to God, but what are you really sacrificing? You are sacrificing the lower life to gain the higher life. It is the great ambition of fallen humanity to be happy as animals instead of being blessed as children of God.

You are sacrificing the pleasure of things to gain the pleasure of life. What would you exchange for love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control? A new car? A better home? A higher position? The belief that those things will give you love, joy, and peace is the lie of the world, even though there is nothing inherently wrong with having degrees, titles, and physical possessions. You are sacrificing the temporal to gain the eternal. Some sacrifice! In reality, denying self-rule is the magnificent defeat. Only when we come to the end of our resources do we discover His resources. Lordship is not a negative doctrine. We are liberated in Christ when Jesus is Lord.

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

Join our “Victory over the Darkness” or “The Bondage Breaker” series of Discipleship Classes via the mt4christ247 podcast!

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

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

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

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

Encouragement for the Path of Christian Discipleship