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

Thursday, October 14, 2021

Freedom in Christ Lesson 6: The Battle for Our Minds

 

Freedom in Christ Lesson 6: The Battle for Our Minds  

 Lesson 6 Podcast

Focus Verse:

Ephesians 6:11 (NIV2011)
11 Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes.

Objective: To understand that, although our enemy, the devil, is constantly attempting to get us to believe lies, we don’t have to believe every thought that comes into our head but can hold each one up against truth and choose to accept it our reject it.

Focus Truth: We are all in a spiritual battle. It’s a battle between truth and lies, and it takes place in our minds. If we are aware of how Satan works, we will not fall for his schemes.  

Welcome

Has anyone ever played a really good trick on you, or have you played one on someone else? What was it?

Read aloud the following passages:

Colossians 2:15 (NKJV)
15 Having disarmed principalities and powers, He made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them in it.

 Luke 10:19 (NKJV)
19 Behold, I give you the authority to trample on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall by any means hurt you.

Colossians 2:20 (NKJV)
20 Therefore, if you died with Christ from the basic principles of the world, why, as though living in the world, do you subject yourselves to regulations—

Matthew 28:18-20 (NKJV)
18 And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, "All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth.
19 Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,
20 teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age." Amen.

 

The Battle is Real

We're not just up against the world and the flesh. The Bible teaches that we're also up against the devil, whom Jesus calls the “father of lies” (John 8:44). The good news is that this is the most resolvable of the three. Jesus came to destroy the devil’s work (1 John 3:8)

The tendency, however, of those of us brought up with the Western worldview is to run our lives as if the spiritual did not exist. But from the beginning of Genesis to the end of Revelation, there's one continuous theme in the Bible: the battle between the Kingdom of light and the Kingdom of darkness; Between the Spirit of Truth and the father of lies; between the Christ and the Antichrist.

If we don't understand that we are in a battle or how that battle works, we're likely to become a casualty - to be neutralized in our walk with the Lord.

Satan The Deceiver

So, who is Satan and how does he work?

When God created Adam and Eve to rule over the world the devil had to crawl at their feet in the form of a snake.

But when they sinned, Adam and Eve effectively handed over their right to rule the world to Satan. That's why Jesus referred to him as the “prince, or ruler, of this world” (John 12:31). He's also called “the ruler of the kingdom of the air” (Eph 2:2) and we're told that the whole world lies in his power (1 John 5:19).

Satan is Not Like God

God and Satan are not equal and opposite powers or anything remotely like that, though Satan would like you to think that they are. In fact, it has been said that to compare Satan to God is like comparing an ant to an atomic bomb. The Bible makes a huge distinction between the “Creator” and the “created” (John 1:3). Like us, Satan is a mere created being.

Satan Can Only Be in One Place at a Time

Because of that, we can infer that he can only be in one place at one time. He rules this world through “rulers, authorities, powers and spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms” (Eph 6:12), different types of levels of fallen angels. The Bible doesn't bother telling us a huge amount about how they are organized because we don't really need to know.

Only God is everywhere at once. That means that most of us have probably never come up against Satan himself in person. So when I use the term “Satan” I'm usually referring not just to Satan himself (who can only be in one place at one time) but using it to refer to evil spirits in general.  

Satan's Power and Authority Do Not Even Begin to Compare to God’s

At the cross Jesus completely disarmed Satan (Col 2:15) and Satan can only operate within the boundaries that God sets (Jude 1:6). He can't just walk into your life and inflict damage and destruction.

God has put Satan on a leash, and he can only act within the boundaries that God has set.

Satan Does Not Know Everything.

Every occult practice relates to the mind or the future, but Satan knows neither perfectly.

There is no evidence that Satan can read your mind. For example, all interaction in the Bible between angels and people or demons and people is done out loud.

 How Satan works

By Putting Thoughts into Our Mind

Now this does not mean that Satan cannot put thoughts into your mind, something that the Bible clearly teaches he can do.

Mind you, so can I. In fact I hope that during this course I live I've been putting lots of thoughts into your mind.

Because he’s had so much practice observing people over many years, he can often make a pretty accurate guess about what's going on in your mind and it's not hard for him to know what you are thinking if he gave you the thought in the first place.

The Spirit clearly says that in latter times some will abandon the faith and follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons one (1 Timothy 4:1).

Are Christians being deceived into abandoning faith and listening to demons? Let's look at three Biblical examples to try to understand how we can be affected without even knowing it.

Satan rose up against Israel and incited David to take a census of Israel. (1 Chronicles 21:1)

What's wrong with that? Wouldn't you want to know how many troops you had? But even the captain of his guard tried to persuade him not to do it because it showed that David was putting his confidence in his own resources rather than God.

But why did he listen to Satan? To put it another way, would he have done it if he had thought it was Satan's idea? Of course not! David believed that it was his own idea, even though the Bible makes clear that it wasn't.

The evening meal was being served, and the devil had already prompted Judas Iscariot, son of Simon, to betray Jesus. (John 13:2)

Weren't these Judas’ own thoughts? No. The Bible clearly says that the thought came from the devil. And when Judas realized the implications of what he had done, he went out and hanged himself.

Then Peter said, “Ananias, how is it that Satan has so filled your heart that you have lied to the Holy Spirit and have kept for yourselves some of the money you received for the land?” (Acts 5:3).  

Ananias almost certainly thought that this was his own idea, but the Bible makes clear that it originated with Satan. Ananias was deceived and it had terrible consequences. God struck him dead. He sent a powerful message to the early church about the importance of not compromising the truth.

It's not too much of a leap to think that, if Satan can put thoughts into our mind he can make them sound like our own. He would not announce the thought with an evil cackle: “Satan here, you’re useless.” No, he would make it sound very much like your own thought: “I'm useless, I'm ugly.” Not every thought that comes into your mind is your own. And you don't have to think every thought that comes into your mind.


Pause for Thought 1

Objective:

To understand who Satan is and how he works. To realize that he is only a created being but also a destroyer, liar, and thief. (John 8:44, 10:10)

Questions:

Does the devil seem more or less powerful than you had imagined? In what ways?

“Not every thought that comes into your head is your own” For example “I'm useless or I'm dirty.” What do you think about this?

Looking back, can you identify occasions when a thought you have had may well have been from the enemy? Are those thoughts always completely false?

___________________________________________________________________________________

Through Temptation, Accusation, and Deception

The strategies Satan uses fall into three categories: temptation, accusation, and deception.

 

Let's imagine your Christian life as a race, with the racetrack stretching out in front of you. Satan can't block the path or stop you from becoming everything that God wants you to be. All he can do is shout out to you from the sidelines.

He'll try to tempt you away. “Hey! Look what's over here! Come and get it. It'll make you feel better, and no one needs to find out. You know you want to.”

Or he'll shout accusations at you. “You blew it again? You useless excuse for a Christian! You might as well sit down and give up.”

He'll also tell you barefaced lies. “Excuse me, you're going the wrong way. The finish line is back that way.”

Satan is trying to get us into sin, to establish negative patterns of thought. “I'm hopeless” or “I'll never be able to”, and to deceive us into worldly ways of thinking. “I can figure this out on my own” or “All I need is positive thinking”.

The most defeated Christians believe the lies and sit down. “Yeah, you're right, it's hopeless.”

Others stand while they argue with the thoughts, but they make no progress.

Victorious Christians simply ignore them. They take every thought captive to the obedience of Christ and keep running toward the finish line.

Are we experiencing a battle for the mind? Let's ask three questions to find out. Please raise your hand to indicate your response.

·       How many of us have experienced some form of temptation this last week? And are the others being tempted to lie?

According to the Bible, who is the tempter? Is it the opposite sex, or the porn site, or the chocolate bar? No, those are just objects that Satan uses. But given that Satan himself can only be in one place at a time, we're probably dealing with deceiving spirits.

·       How many of us here have struggled with the voice of the accuser in the last week? Or, to put it in another way: How many of us have struggled with thoughts like: “I'm stupid,” “I'm hopeless,” “No one understands me,” “God doesn't love me.”  “I'm different from others”?

Every one of us has. Satan accuses us before God day and night (Revelation 12:10).

·       In the last week, how many of us have been deceived in some way?  

Far fewer hands went up for the third question (if indeed that is the case) because if I tempt you, you know it and if I accuse you, you know it. But if I deceive you, by definition you don't know it. Deception is Satan's primary strategy.

By Getting Footholds in Our Lives Through Sin.

In the last session we looked at Ephesians 4:26-27 which says that if we don't deal with anger quickly, we give the devil of foothold in our life.

You can see the same principle in 2 Corinthians 2:10-11:

Anyone you forgive, I also forgive. And what I have forgiven, if there was anything to forgive, I have forgiven in the sight of Christ for your sake, in order that Satan might not outwit us. For we are not unaware of his schemes.

We’ll look at forgiveness in a later session. But for now I'll just point out that Satan's greatest access to our lives is often through the sin of unforgiveness.

If Satan can lead us into sin, he gains a point of influence in our lives that he can use to hold us back, as if we are on a piece of elastic.

We tend to look for the activity of demons in “dramatic” episodes. But the battle is primarily in the mind.

The Relationship between Demons and Christians

It's very important to stress at this point that we're not talking about Christians being completely taken over or taken back by demons.

At the center of your being, your spirit is connected to God's Spirit and Satan can't have you back. You have been purchased by the blood of the lamb (1Peter 1:18-19). In other words, we're not talking here about ownership or “possession”.

If we fall for Satan's temptation, accusation, or deception, he may gain a degree of influence in our minds (1 Peter 5:8). His goal is to neutralize us or even use us to further his agenda (for example, Acts 5:3).  

We read in 2 Corinthians 4:4 that Satan “has blinded the minds of unbelievers” and these footholds seem to work in believers in much the same way. They cause a degree of spiritual blindness and make it more difficult for us to connect with the truth. That's why good teaching on its own isn't enough for us to grow. We may simply be unable to connect with it until we deal with these footholds of the enemy.

The good news is that getting rid of these footholds is not difficult or dramatic, and you'll get an opportunity to do that in a gentle and controlled way when we go through The Steps to Freedom in Christ. Many find that they are then able to grasp the truth of God's word in a completely new way.

Pause for Thought 2

Objective: To help people get to grips with what it means practically to win the battle for our minds.

Questions:

“If you are deceived, by definition you don't know it.” What are some of the ways that you might become aware of deception in your life?

What practical steps can you take to “take every thought captive” to obey Christ? (2 Cor 10:5)?

If we have given the enemy of foothold through sin, how can we take that foothold away according to James 4:7?

___________________________________________________________________________________

Our Defense

Understand Our Position in Christ

Ephesians 1:19-22 says that Jesus is seated at God's right hand, the ultimate seat of power and authority, “far above all rule and authority, power and dominion”. God has placed all things under His feet, and we are told that He is now “head over everything”.

That's a great position of power!

So what is our position?

Ephesians 2:6 says, “And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus.”

We are seated with Christ, far above Satan and all demonic powers. Not just slightly above!

Use the Resources We Have in Christ

Now even though Satan is defeated, he still “prowls around, like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour” (1 Peter 5:8).

However, James 4:7 says, “Submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you.” As long as you are submitting to God when you resist the devil he has no choice but to flee. This applies to every Christian no matter how weak and frail you may feel, or how long or how short a time you have been a Christian.  Every believer has the same authority and power in Christ over the spiritual world.

Understanding this concept is the key to escaping from sin-confess cycles. We need to do more than simply confess to God that we did wrong. We also need to resist the devil so that he flees from us.

Do Not Be Frightened

There is nothing big about a demon except its mouth! They are like dogs with a big bark but no teeth. We don't need to be intimidated by something that goes bump in the night. The truth is that demons are petrified of Christians who understand the magnitude of power and authority they have in Christ. Satan and demons have no power over Christians except what we give them.

Some of you might be thinking, “Do you mean there might be demons in here?” Yes, the spiritual world is filled with demons, but so what? God has not given us the spirit of fear. You have no reason to be afraid of that. What else is here what that you can't see but has the potential to hurt you? Germs!

What is the proper response to the fact that there are germs all around?

Do you need to go put on a protective suit and spray disinfectant all over the place? No! The best response is to live a balanced life of diet, exercise, and rest and let your immune system protect you.

What is the best response to the fact that there are demons all around? Simply to fix our eyes on Jesus and by faith live a righteous life in the power of the Holy Spirit. The last thing you need to do is go looking for a demon behind every bush.

However, the danger comes from those Christians who don't realize that demons are there, don't understand how they work, and don't know how to protect themselves. When doctors didn't know there were germs all around us, they didn't sterilize their instruments or scrub their hands and people died. Christians who don't put on the full armor of God are left exposed to the attack of the enemy because they don't understand the reality of the spiritual world.

By the way, your authority does not increase with volume! You don't need to shout the devil away. If you think you have to shout and scream, you're not exercising your authority, you're actually undermining it. The devil’s goal is to get you to respond in fear. If you respond in fear you're operating in the flesh, and he will defeat you.

If you're ever tempted to be frightened of the enemy here is a good verse to memorize: “The One who was born of God keeps them safe, and the evil one cannot harm them.” (1 John 5:18).

Guard Our Minds

Then we need to guard our minds, to be careful what we allow into them.

There are a lot of Eastern influences coming into the business world, schools, and even churches, that are simply dangerous. 

It's concerning when such practices enter our church. The psalmist said, “Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me” (Ps 139: 23-24). It's good to invite God to search our heart. However, we are never told to direct our thoughts inward or passively but always outward and actively. Even in 1 Corinthians 14, the definitive chapter on tongues and prophecy, Paul says if you pray with your spirit, you should also pray with your mind.

We open ourselves up to deception when we put our mind into neutral. That's what other religions do. For example, Maharishi Yogi, a Hindu, says, “The mind is like a snake. You have to get it out of the way so that you can perceive truth directly”.

We never want to deny any supernatural work of God in our lives, but he does not bypass our minds. He works through them.

Turn on the Light

Some people are concerned to know whether the thoughts in their mind are from the enemy or not. That's the wrong question. The real issue is not where the thought came from but whether it's true! We are told to, “take every thought captive” (2 Corinthians 10:5).. I don't care if it is coming from my memory, the TV, the Internet, or a deceiving spirit. If it is not true, I am not believing it!

If you're in a dark room and you want to see, what do you do? Do you try to shoo the darkness away? No. You turn on the light! Don't focus on the enemy, focus on the truth.

Do you know how bank clerks are trained to recognize forged currency? By studying forged notes? No! By studying the real thing. They get to know what real currency looks like so they are able to spot fake ones when they come through. In the same way, our defense against deception is to know the truth.

Satan’s lies can't withstand the truth any more than night can withstand the rising sun. It's a truth encounter, not a power encounter.

So let's not focus on the enemy. Instead, as Paul instructs:

“Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable, if anything is excellent or praiseworthy, think about such things.” (Philippians 4:8).

Reflection

 

Objective: To focus on the protection we have from Satan’s schemes.

“The One who was born of God keeps them safe, and the evil one cannot harm them.” (1 John 5:18). Spend a few minutes as a group discussing this powerful truth and how it applies to your daily life.

Read Ephesians 6:10-18 pausing after each element of the armor of God to pray. As you pray, visualize yourself putting on, or having on, each piece of the armor and commit yourself to what it represents, for example:

“I put on the belt of truth. I commit myself to believe the truth, speak only the truth, and live according to the truth.”

“I thank You that Jesus has made me righteous and that the breastplate of righteousness covers my heart.”

_________________________________________________________________________________

Witness: How do you think Satan works in the lives of your non-Christian friends?  What might you be able to do about this?

In the Coming Week: Meditate on the following verses:

Matthew 28:18 (NKJV)
18  And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, "All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth.

Ephesians 1:3-14 (NKJV)
3  Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ,
4  just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love,
5  having predestined us to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will,
6  to the praise of the glory of His grace, by which He has made us accepted in the Beloved.
7  In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace
8  which He made to abound toward us in all wisdom and prudence,
9  having made known to us the mystery of His will, according to His good pleasure which He purposed in Himself,
10  that in the dispensation of the fullness of the times He might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven and which are on earth--in Him.
11  In Him also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestined according to the purpose of Him who works all things according to the counsel of His will,
12  that we who first trusted in Christ should be to the praise of His glory.
13  In Him you also trusted, after you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation; in whom also, having believed, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise,
14  who is the guarantee of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, to the praise of His glory.

Ephesians 2:4-10 (NKJV)
4  But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us,
5  even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved),
6  and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus,
7  that in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.
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.
10  For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.

Colossians 2:13-15 (NKJV)
13  And you, being dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He has made alive together with Him, having forgiven you all trespasses,
14  having wiped out the handwriting of requirements that was against us, which was contrary to us. And He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross.
15  Having disarmed principalities and powers, He made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them in it.


Simple Encouragement - True Friends vs. Enablers - Purity 549

Simple Encouragement - True Friends vs. Enablers - Purity 549 

Purity 549 10/14/2021  Purity 549 Podcast

Good morning

Today’s sunset photo of a pathway through Breitbeck Park near the shores of Lake Ontario in Oswego NY comes to us from Celestial Blue Photography.  As awesome as this sunset photo displays the glory of God’s creation, I like to point out the dedication of the photographer to his craft that is unseen and behind the scenes. For those who don’t know, Rocco Saya recently broke his leg near this scene and his injury was sever enough to require a metal rod to be surgically implanted in his leg back in mid-September and he is still on the mend but his love for his craft compels him to capture the beauty that surrounds him.  

It’s Thursday, and I share photos that highlight paths on this day because it is on Thursdays that I originally started my recovery journey back in 2015 and since then have applied the principles of Christian Discipleship (Living by faith in the power of the Holy Spirit or “walking in the Spirit”) to other areas of my life to increasingly experience my freedom in Christ. 

I also share photos of pathways on Thursdays to invite people to join me on the path of Christian Discipleship by attending the Freedom in Christ Discipleship Course that I am facilitating at Rock Solid Church in Hudson NY at 6:30pm this evening.   For those who are not local to Hudson, I podcast a version of the class and encourage you to check it out, in addition to the other discipleship classes we offer on the mt4christ247 podcast.   

I always like to point out that discipleship is born out of our love for God. Just like Rocco Saya loves photography and is dedicated to his craft despite injury, the Christian should pursue the things of God and be dedicated to learning and apply His wisdom to their lives because of their love for the Lord and to not let the things of this world or the lies of the enemy distract them in their pursuits. I was reminded of how enticing the things of this world could be and how they could lead us to distraction just last night.

Next week I will be on the prayer team for the Freedom in Christ Ministries’  “Fall Practicum”,  a training seminar for Community Freedom Ministry Associates (CFMA’s), and my time will be consumed by ministry work from Monday to Wednesday. I teach and launch the podcast for the Freedom in Christ Course on Thursdays.  So looking ahead, I realized yesterday afternoon that I should utilize my rare free time last evening to record the podcast for next week’s lesson to stay ahead and not have to scramble to get it done at the last minute next week.

But after a day at work, I fixed myself some dinner and decided to turn on the television. I enjoyed the break apparently because I decided that the podcast could wait because I needed some “me time” and was contemplating what to watch next and what to eat next.  The old slothful pattern of binge eating and watching T.V. was ready to be deployed!

However, I was contacted by a Christian friend and in our conversation I confessed my situation and to their credit they encouraged me to do the podcast for the discipleship class even though it meant that our chatting would have to end if I were to pursue that path.  

They probably won’t think much of what they did for me, but I just have spell it out for all of us to appreciate the selflessness and care behind such a simple encouragement.   

I don’t know about you, but I have had several relationships in the past where I was in similar situations and things went differently.  

In the past I would have responsibilities or aspirations for self-improvement of other goals and in the course of life I would become stressed.  In the past I had no real relationship with God and didn’t know the benefits of having a daily spiritual practice, so when I got stressed I would look to other things, like alcohol, drugs, sex, food, or entertainment, or all of the above, to comfort me or relieve the stress.  When the stress came, I would go to those other things and my noble intentions regarding my responsibilities would go out the window.  

In the past, I had people in my life who would enable my patterns to continue. They wouldn’t encourage me to do the “better things” that I wanted to or should do.  They would agree with me about the difficulties of life and my choices to blow things off or push them out to the last minute.  When I was stressed about those responsibilities, or plans to better myself,  or just in general, they would encourage me to relax and seek my comfort in those unhealthy habits because “nobody was perfect”. While their advice was understandable and may even seem practical and merciful, if often lead to increase stress at latter times and the continuation of habits and cycles that would keep me enslaved to the status quo.    No improvement or betterment can be expected if we comprise our core values and goals.  

We can’t guess the motivations of “enablers”. I would suspect most enablers are acting out of ignorance and just want to maintain the “peace” out love for the troubled people in their lives. But like the Old Testament prophet Jeremiah said of the false prophets of his day, enablers are trying to proclaim “Peace, peace” when there is no peace. Their advice to “let people be” in their homes is contributing to the tumultuous conditions in which they live because they have compromised what should be core values, such as “sobriety” “responsibility” and “accountability”, to indulge someone’s “weakness” or “sin”.  FYI, drunkenness, slothfulness, gluttony, and failing to do what we are supposed to do are things God warns us to avoid in the Bible.        

Enablers or those who are codependent may play a more active or sinister role in encouraging their loved ones to go astray.  Their need for love and attention may drive them to distract their loved ones away from their responsibilities or goals simply because they want to be cared for or made to be the center of attention.  

Others have discovered that their loved one’s addictive tendencies make them easy to manipulate and control and may actively tempt and offer their loved one’s the things that lead them to distraction or keep them locked into their patterns of behavior or their addictive cycles.   

So when my friend didn’t say “oh that’s okay” to my choice to slack off or encouraged me to put things off to spend time chatting with them, they really showed their love for me.  They showed that they understood what I really cared about and instead of encouraging me to take a path that might lead to problems later they encouraged me to be proactive and responsible to give me a measure of peace next week instead of having it right now.  

Luckily, Ithe Lord has helped me to mature since my dark days of addictions and reactive emotions, and when my friend made the simple suggestion to do what I said I wanted to do, it was all the accountability prompting that I needed.  I decided that after the current episode of the TV sitcom I was watching was over I would record the podcast for next week.  

And you know what, that exactly what I did.  The overeating slothful pattern that wanted to run its program was stopped dead in its track.  I am no longer a slave to those cycles, but I have to be intentional and diligent to pursue the better things, the things of God, and to recognize what I am doing from moment to moment and to discern whether or not I am “on track”  or have veered off course.   And as last night taught me, we should be honest and report what we are doing to our friends that can encourage us to pursue our goals rather than wallow in self pity or indulgence.   

So keep walking and talking with God. He will lead you in the way you should go and to people who will encourage your progress on the path of Christian Discipleship.  Life is hard enough so we should trust the Lord and be wise when we choose our traveling companions on our life’s journey.  We don’t want “yes” men or women who will indulge our worst tendencies and we don’t want those who will seek to manipulate or control us by offering us “peace, peace” when there is no peace.  The Lord won’t lead you astray so be sure to consider his wisdom when you evaluate the possible relationships in your lives and choose the people who are seeking the Lord and who really want what’s best for you and your purpose in God’s kingdom.

 

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

This morning’s meditation verse is:

Psalm 139:7-10 (NLT2)
7  I can never escape from your Spirit! I can never get away from your presence!
8  If I go up to heaven, you are there; if I go down to the grave, you are there.
9  If I ride the wings of the morning, if I dwell by the farthest oceans,
10  even there your hand will guide me, and your strength will support me.

 

Today’s verse simply reminds us that God is omnipresent and He is available to us personally.  

This passage teaches us that no matter where we go God is there. For the Christian that is a great comfort because we have found peace with God through faith in Jesus Christ and need not fear that Lord “sees us when we’re sleeping or know when we’re awake.”  

God is not Santa Claus however and for those who are not at peace with Him this passage tells us He is also the one who will send us to hell (the grave in the NLT) – Satan is not the king of Hell. God sends people there and His wrath is what is poured out on those sent there.

So there is no escaping God, but the good news is that we don’t have to escape Him. He gives mercy, grace, and forgiveness to all who put their faith in Christ.  

Instead of being freaked out that God is everywhere, the Christian can instead find comfort that His heavenly Father is always with them and, as this passage indicates, can receive His guidance and strength when we seek Him. 

So rejoice over your peace with God through your faith in Christ and recognize that the Lord is always with you by speaking to Him and by asking for His guidance and strength.  He is with us. He loves us. And He will give us the guidance and strength to make it through this life and to fulfill our purpose for Him.  

 

  

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

 

Today we continue sharing from June Hunt’s Dating: Secrets to Great Relating When Dating  

 

As always, I share this information for educational purposes and encourage all to purchase June Hunt’s books for your own private study and to support her work. If you need this title you can find it online at several sites for less than $5.00:

II. Characteristics

Sonnets and love songs are filled with sentiments of a love that last forever. In fact, we all want love that lasts forever. The problem is we all want it now. Some people are so desperate for love, they begin to play games—unhealthy games of flattery and flirtation, risky games of seduction and sex. They are unwilling to wait for God's perfect timing and plan.

Do they not realize God's Word contains guidelines for great relating...and dating? He wants you to rely on Him to meet the needs of your heart and to wait on Him to provide all your relationships. Because the Lord knows you best, you can look to Him to lead you each step of the way. The book of Proverbs cautions those who try to plan their own course....

"In their hearts humans plan their course, but the Lord establishes their steps." (Proverbs 16:9)

A. What Characteristics Should You Seek in Someone You Date?

When Bryan posts a sonogram picture of his baby on Facebook, many of his friends instantly like the photo and congratulate the father-to-be. For them, the innocent image is a sentimental expression of joy for a brand new life—but for Frieda, it's a slap in the face.

The fact is...Bryan is Frieda's ex-boyfriend, and the baby is not hers. Although it's been a year since they "officially" dated, they continue to talk off and on and never have severed all ties. They've always kept their options open about maybe getting back together—someday. Yet Bryan's recent actions reconfirm Frieda's gnawing concern about Bryan: a lack of integrity. He has a new girlfriend, she's pregnant with his baby...yet he chose to reveal this news to the world—and Frieda—on Facebook!

Character counts. What characteristics are you looking for in someone you would date? Do you know your non-negotiables? Even more so, make sure you know which characteristics you desire in a mate before you begin to date...and then prioritize developing those same characteristics yourself....

"What does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God." (Micah 6:8)

The Character Checklist for Dating

Place a check mark () beside each character trait you need to see in the person you feel drawn to date. Does your prospective date...

  • □ Demonstrate wisdom and discernment?
  • □ Have a heart to do what is in your best interest?
  • □ Possess a sensitive conscience in regard to right and wrong?
  • □ Refuse to use you or others to gain status?
  • □ Have the approval of the significant people in your life?
  • □ Have a reputation of keeping commitments?
  • □ Display follow-through in meeting obligations?
  • □ Show respect toward authority?
  • □ Have a positive outlook on life?
  • □ Exercise discipline and self-control?
  • □ Manage money well?
  • □ Maintain eye contact when talking with people?
  • □ Interact courteously and honestly with others?
  • □ Have an active Bible study and prayer life?
  • □ Share your personal values?
  • □ Show evidence of the fruit of the Spirit in their life?...

"But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law." (Galatians 5:22-23)


Biblical Counseling Keys: Dating: Secrets to Great Relating When Dating.

 

---------------------------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.

 

Encouragement for the Path of Christian Discipleship

 

Tuesday, October 12, 2021

The Most Sincere Pumpkin Patch – It’s the Holy Spirit, Charlie Brown! - Purity 547


The Most Sincere Pumpkin Patch – It’s the Holy Spirit, Charlie Brown! - Purity 547                                          

Purity 547 10/12/2021 Purity 547 Podcast

Good morning

Today’s photo of a misty morning, fog covered pumpkin patch in Johnsonville NY comes to us from yours truly as I simply had to stop on the side of the road to capture this October scene on the morning of the 7th day of the 10th month.  

The fog wasn’t as thick as pea soup, but you can see that it was substantial as the pumpkin patch was covered in mystery and even the brilliance of the morning sun was shrouded by it. If you have been following the recent events in my life, you may also know that this pumpkin patch and the sun’s brilliance wasn’t the only thing shrouded in mystery on the morning of the seventh.

Although I may have been able to guess that the fog would clear and the sun’s brilliance would dominate creating a pleasant October day, at the time when I took this photo I had no idea that I was to receive information that would lead me to propose to my fiancé later the same day.  

In the aftermath of joy, at her acceptance of my invitation to become my wife, my future life partner and I took some time yesterday to discuss how God had moved in each of our lives to bring us together and how we could have never guessed the far reaching consequences to decisions that we each had made months ago that would eventually lead to us meeting, becoming friends, and agreeing to marriage.  

As two travelers on the path of Christian Discipleship, we had only intended to be faithful to God’s call on our lives individually seeking to serve Him and to know Him more.  In our seeking the Lord, we met each other and as our initial impressions and misconceptions about one another were clarified so we could see the truth about who we each were, we realized that we were both the “sincere” Christians who could fulfill our mutual desires for a Christian spouse.    

Not only did our recent paths lead us to one another for marriage, but the Lord was also working in both our lives to deepen and mature our faith in Him individually.  In the preceding months, I was maturing in my faith by establishing and leading a Christian Discipleship Ministry, starting a podcast, and receiving healing and instruction about the pains of divorce and the contemplation of moving on. 

At the same time, my fiancé was being drawn to trust in the Lord at a deeper level. She was challenged to step out of her comfort zone by going out of her way to seek instruction and to apply the things she “always knew” in her mind about the Christian faith at a heart or experiential level.  Beyond reading a book or gleaning a few insights from a Bible study. she also learned about the truth of the Lord’s presence in her life by asking for and receiving the “baptism of the Holy Spirit”. She also experienced the power of the Holy Spirit in her life to aide her through the Steps to Freedom in Christ to resolve personal and spiritual conflicts to help her to know experientially her freedom in Christ.  

We both marveled over how the Lord worked in each of us individually and how he brought us together.  We can now see how the “blessings” that we each experienced was the result of each of us choosing to “seek the Lord” through surrender and obedience to His ways and repentance from the things of this world that held us back.  

We both recognized that the blessings didn’t come overnight and that our walks were a process of pursuing the Lord’s will for our lives and were marked by our individual desires to do His will with no expectation of specific results.  

I pointed out that although my fiancé had received a supernatural manifestation of the Holy Spirit’s presence in her life, it didn’t come out of nowhere. Before she “received”, she had repented by making a decision to seek the Lord’s will for her life and to be faithful to follow where He led her.  And after hearing about the baptism of the Holy Spirit, she researched what was said about it and most importantly “sincerely” asked the Lord to receive it.  Shortly after her asking, she received.     

Being October, I made the silly analogy that it was like Charles Schultz’ Peanut’s character, Linus Van Pelt seeking to have visitation from the Great Pumpkin.  Linus’ Great Pumpkin theology stated that the GP only “rises out of the pumpkin patch that he thinks is most sincere”. 

Our seeking the Lord, our repentance, our obedience, and our faithfulness to preserve in “walking in the Spirit” and asking for the baptism of the Holy Spirit demonstrates our “most sincere” hearts for the Lord.  

While I can’t codify or write a prescription for how you experience this encounter with the Lord’s presence, all the testimonies that I have heard, including my own, in which someone receives the baptism of the Holy Spirit have the common elements of:

1.    Seeking the Lord (learning and sincerely seeking God’s wisdom and ways from the study of the Bible , and His presence in prayer and worship)  

2.    Repentance (turning from sin, or surrendering from habit that draw us from God, choosing to forsake the world’s ways for the spiritual path of Christian Discipleship)

3.    Prayer  (communing with the Lord in prayer and specifically asking to receive the baptism of the Holy Spirit, including thanksgiving, worship, and praise).       

Beyond this, I point out that the baptism of the Holy Spirit is given as a sign that is to confirm our faith beyond any and all doubts and that naturally leads to an increased desire for sanctification and service to the Lord.  

I like to be clear and point out that we are not running after experiences, we are seeking the Lord and His will for our lives. While we may have moments of intense peace, love, and joy in the Lord’s presence as we walk out our faith, the purpose of our walk is not “good feelings”. The Lord calls us to follow Him and leads us into “good works” that He has prepared for us to walk into.  

So seek the Lord with a “most sincere” heart and follow the path that He guides you in. Generally, I would say the Lord will guide you to His word, repentance, and good works that will bring Him glory.  

So keep walking and talking with God because even though we may not be “overcome by the Spirit” in a dramatic way every day of our journey,  when we are faithful to follow the Lord we know that He will never leave us or forsake us and that because He is omnipresent, we are always living in His presence.

To see Him in our lives, we only need to look through the mist of the world’s lies and see the brilliance of the Son of God who saves all who put their faith in Him and who calls his disciples to experience the abundant new life that His sacrifice on the cross paid for.      

(There is more content to help you walk out your journey of faith at MT4Christ dot org. You can also subscribe to the mt4christ247 podcast to hear this message, our discipleship classes, and our weekly Bible Study, on Apple, Google, Spotify, and Amazon Podcasts, as well as Audible and Podbean).

#Christian #christianity #encouragement #freedominchrist #christiancounseling #jesuschrist #mt4christ #discipleship #victoryoverthedarkness #Dating #mt4christ247podcast 

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

This morning’s meditation verses are:

Philippians 2:12-13 (NLT2)
12  Dear friends, you always followed my instructions when I was with you. And now that I am away, it is even more important. Work hard to show the results of your salvation, obeying God with deep reverence and fear.
13  For God is working in you, giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases him.

 

Today’s verse points to the individual responsibility of every Christian to obey the Lord with the simple desire to do that which pleases Him.  

Today’s verse speaks of the integrity of the Christian disciple.  The Philippians “always followed” Paul’s instructions when he was present with him, but he is clear to point out to them that just because he is “out of sight, and out of mind” it doesn’t mean that you stop obeying the Lord’s will for your life.

One definition of integrity that is thrown around Christian circles is that integrity is “doing the right thing when no one is watching.”  In truth, because God is omnipresent and omniscient, Someone is always watching: God.  

But the idea behind that definition of integrity, is the proving of the “sincerity” of our beliefs or Christian faith.  Do you really believe what you say you believe or are you just “putting on a show”?  When no one is watching, are your actions consistent with your faith?  

But I always like to make sure that Christians understand that “doing the right thing”, even when no one is watching, isn’t necessarily going to confirm your faith.  

“Doing the right thing” is great but are you doing it for the right reasons? 

Today’s verse encourages us to “follow instructions” but it also points to our proper motivation: our relationship with the Lord.   We are to have “deep reverence and fear” for the Lord which I would equate to “proper understanding and respect for the Lord”. 

Deep reverence comes from properly understanding that God is who He says He is: the eternal, unchanging, all powerful, all knowing, loving, good, and holy Creator of all things.

Fear comes from respecting who God is and realizing that the proper response to Him as our Sovereign King, who graciously made a way for us to be forgiven and reconciled to Him, is obedience and love.

When we are in relationship with God through faith in Jesus Christ, we receive the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit.   Thus as verse 13 says:

“God is working in you, giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases him.”

 

Our “doing the right thing” is only a demonstration of our faith when we “do it for the right reason”: loving God, having the heartfelt desire “to do what pleases Him,”.  

 

So as disciples of Jesus Christ, the buck stops here. We individually must “do the right thing” which is to obey the Lord’s instructions – not out of a fear of punishment – we have been forgiven and promised eternal life after all-  but out of our desire to do what pleases God. We are motivated to keep walking in the spirit not to please men, or even with the hope to receive rewards, we surrender our lives to the Lord’s ways and service because we love Him.     

 

So rejoice in the new life that was graciously bought for you, do what is pleasing to the Lord, and be assured that not only are you doing the right thing when no one else is around, you are doing it for the right reason, your love for the One who made it all and gave it all for you.  

 

 

 

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

 

Today we continue sharing from June Hunt’s Dating: Secrets to Great Relating When Dating  

 

As always, I share this information for educational purposes and encourage all to purchase June Hunt’s books for your own private study and to support her work. If you need this title you can find it online at several sites for less than $5.00:

E. What Is the Progression of Courtship?

Kyle no longer feels nervous when he knocks on Jennifer's door. When her mother or father answers, he is invited in immediately—no longer an intruder who might steal away their little girl. Now his presence is welcome as if he were one of the family. For months on end, Kyle has earned an invisible emblem of honor by proving himself trustworthy. Likewise, Jennifer feels comfortable in his company, at ease and safe under his caring protection.

Progressing from acquaintance to friendship to something more has moved at a snail's pace...but both know this has been time well invested in their future. And now the time has come for the next step in their courtship. With the blessing of her parents, Kyle kneels down and takes Jennifer's hand in his...asking her to be his bride, for he knows the treasure he has found in Jennifer and...

"He who finds a wife finds what is good and receives favor from the Lord." (Proverbs 18:22)

The primary difference between dating and courtship lies in the intent of the relationship.

For many, the dating relationship is driven by romantic connection for the sole purpose of enjoyment. Casual daters "try on" other people to see how well they fit—their looks, their personality, their style. Dating can sometimes be more centered on self. And while there may be awareness that marriage could be considered, the presiding purpose for casual dating is immediate pleasure.

In a courting relationship, both people understand that the purpose of the relationship is to consider marriage. Courting takes a long-term view. It's not simply a Christian way of dating, nor is there anything "casual" about the approach. Courting is best suited to those who are spiritually and emotionally ready for marriage—those who give sincere love—not based on emotion, but on devotion....

"Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good." (Romans 12:9)

The Progression of Courtship

  • Commitment to Christ
    • Be confident of who you are in Christ: Your identity, love, significance, and security are in Him.
    • Look for a mate among like-minded individuals, equally committed to Christ.
  • Integrated Interests
    • Serve the Lord in ministry, utilizing your God-given talents and gifts.
    • See who works alongside you in ministry, serving in similar areas.
  • Address Appropriate Areas
    • Lay the foundation for relationship by ensuring your emotional healing from past pain.
    • Prepare for building a relationship by developing spiritual maturity and godly character.
  • Find Friendship
    • Acquaintance: Focus on being content in Christ and serving God as a single person.
      • Refrain from emotional intimacy.
      • Casual interaction is acceptable, but avoid one-on-one activities.
    • Casual Friendship. Participate in church activities with other individuals in group settings.
      • Refrain from emotional intimacy.
      • Share surface feelings but avoid one-on-one activities.
    • Close Friendship. Share God's vision, discover spiritual gifts, limit intimate one-on-one talk.
      • Share deeper feelings but limit emotional involvement or attachment.
      • Focus on external social activities instead of one-on-one intimate activities.
      • Side hugs are acceptable.
    • Intimate Friendship: Engage in spiritual talk at its deepest, most intimate level. Discuss possibility of marriage and the purpose of courtship as related to your love for God. Discuss the need for spiritual accountability.
      • Share your innermost thoughts, fears, failures, hopes, and dreams.
      • Support each other in times of crisis, pain, and joy. Limit one-on-one emotional interaction.
      • Side hugs and holding hands are acceptable.
  • Acquire Accountability
    • —Begin to become one spiritually, spending one-on-one time in shared prayer and in church.
    • —Commit your courtship to glorify God and help each other grow in Christ.
    • —Start pre-engagement counseling. Seek parental or godly counsel for accountability.
  • Promising Purity
    • —Discuss and document boundaries and limits of a pure relationship.
    • —Increase one-on-one emotional time together.
    • —Side hugs, holding hands, short kisses are acceptable. Limited cuddling.
  • Entering Engagement
    • —Continue becoming one spiritually through prayer, Bible study, church attendance; seek shared ministry opportunities.
    • —Spend one-on-one time sharing deep emotional feelings through vulnerable communication.
    • —Increase holding hands, light kissing and hugging (with caution), and nonsexual touching (not intimate areas).

As the relationship moves toward marriage, continue growth and maturity in becoming unified through prayer, Bible study, church involvement, and ministry. Relate at the deepest spiritual level. Make more and more decisions together as one in Christ. Set aside time each day to share feelings and reflect Christ's love....

"And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them. This is how love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment: In this world we are like Jesus." (1 John 4:16-17)

Biblical Counseling Keys: Dating: Secrets to Great Relating When Dating.

---------------------------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.

 

Encouragement for the Path of Christian Discipleship