Labels

Showing posts with label Evil and Suffering. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Evil and Suffering. Show all posts

Wednesday, May 25, 2022

Practicing to Lose? Faith’s Response to Sudden Tragedy, Grief, and Loss– Purity 740


 Practicing to Lose? Faith’s Response to Sudden Tragedy, Grief, and Loss– Purity 740

Purity 740 05/2/2022 Purity 740 Podcast

Good morning,

Today’s photo the sun shining through cumulous clouds and over utility lines and some roadside greenery comes to us from a friend who shared this pic and other shots of the heavens in an album they called “Look to the Sky” on social media back on May 15th. 

While this photo is magnificent in its simple beauty, It is with a heavy heart that we share it this Wednesday morning as not only has there been another mass shooting in our country, this time at an elementary school in Uvalde Texas, that has reportedly resulted in the deaths of 19 children and two adults, but I also received news late last night that my wife’s uncle, Michael, died suddenly last night apparently from cardiac arrest. 

At times like this we might finding ourselves looking to the sky to ask the Lord: Why? Why did this happen?

Unfortunately, this isn’t the first time that our nation has seen a school shooting and it probably won’t be the last time, and regardless of the efforts of law enforcement and members of the media to investigate this latest crime, the answers they uncover about what happened will not adequately answer that question: why?

Likewise, the loss of our loved ones will not be adequately explained to us from the reported cause of death that is drawn from a coroner’s autopsy report.  

Man’s efforts to explain the evil that men do and the phenomenon of death in our lives can answer the questions of what and how things happened but for the answers of why are existential: they have to do with the big questions of the meaning of life.  

And while some will just look to the sky and possibly lament or grow angry at the seeming lack of meaning or purpose to our lives in the wake of such tragedies, I know that there is a God above it all who loves us and will one day send Christ to make things right.    

The Biblical narrative for the reason “why” bad things happen and why we die, probably won’t provide much comfort to those who are hurt and grieving and may enrage those who don’t have faith in Christ or any respect for the Bible as God’s Word.  So I would hold off on sharing the root causes of evil and death that are provided in scripture in Genesis 3 through the story of Satan tempting Adam and Eve resulting in the knowledge of good and evil, and thus the beginnings of sin, and death.     

That won’t help someone who doesn’t believe and it might not help those who do. 

However, the Christian faith can be of immeasurable value in times of trouble, provided that the person has mature understanding of the truth of reality that is revealed in scripture and has a relationship with God through faith in Jesus Christ that is augmented by a continuous practice of renewing the mind with God’s word and applying its wisdom to the way we live.   

The Bible contains the answers to life and death. But those answers can confuse or provided cold comfort to those who don’t understand them or who are not actively applying them to their lives.  

The Bible is uncompromising in its depictions of sin, suffering, and death and in presenting Christ as their only remedy and His life reveals the appropriate response that we are to employ when tragedy, suffering, or turmoil comes.   

From the New Testament narratives of His life on earth, we can know what we should do when we don’t know what to say or do.  

Jesus wept.  

Jesus’ tears were shown three times in scripture: Once at the death of his friend Lazarus (John 11:35), once over the city of Jerusalem when He contemplated its future siege and destruction at the hands of the Romans in 70 A.D.(Luke 19:41) , and finally in the Garden of Gethsemane on the eve of His arrest (indicated in Hebrews 5:7-9) where He anguish was great but His desire to do His Father’s was greater.  

Christ’s example shows us that its okay to cry and as Paul tells us in

Romans 12:15 (NKJV) to
15  …weep with those who weep.  

When we face tragedy, loss, or rejection, it is natural and healthy to express our emotions and to let others express theirs. Instead of trying to relieve people’s grief with theological explanations, we just be present with them and help them where we can. Which brings us to the second thing we can draw from Christ’s life to do in times of trouble.

Jesus healed.  

Jesus heart of compassion was shown in His miraculous healings. While we may not be able to physically or emotionally heal people like Christ did, we can offer hospitality and help to those who need it in other small ways. Being present and available to help others may be the best way to show God’s love to those who are hurting. So be a friend and a Christian by helping where you can and in knowing where you should give space.   

And finally,   Jesus prayed.  

Christ was constantly in prayer.  And when He was faced with His greatest trial on earth, He went to the Father in Prayer, poured His heart out to Him in prayer, and rose to drink His cup of suffering with peace.   

This is the difference maker.  That close personal connection with God and a knowledge of who God is assures of God’s presence, protection, and purpose.  

God is always with us, but we have to seek Him to know the wonders of His love in times of heart ache.   When we seek the Lord in times of suffering, we will find Him and He will give us comfort and strength to persevere througj even the worst tragedy.

Through faith in Christ, we have the assurance of our salvation and eternal life in God’s kingdom.  So no matter if disease or sudden death should come our way, those who have made Christ their Savior know that no matter what pains we suffer on earth, we can trust that the Lord will never leave us or forsake us, will give us strength to endure, and will welcome us home when our time on earth has ended. So we know that we have His ultimate protection.   Christ knew it and He faced an unjust trial and death on the cross with peace because of it.  

And although we may never fully understand why things happen, we can be assured that everything that happens has a purpose under heaven.

Romans 8:28 (NKJV) says that we can
28  … know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.

So while we have limited understanding of why bad things happen or why people die, the Lord knows and we can trust that He works all things together for good.   

To have peace in the storms of our lives, we need to stand on the Rock, Jesus Christ. When we know who we are in Christ we can be assured of our acceptance, significance, and security in Christ.  The truth of who we are in Christ and a close personal relationship with God that is fostered by continuous practice of the spiritual disciplines of prayer and Bible study will keep us grounded in peace in every circumstance and comfort us in times of trouble.   

So in hard times, remember to keep walking and talking with God and He will see you through.

 

______________________________________________________________

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

This morning’s meditation verse is:

Romans 10:9 (NLT2)
9  If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.

Today’s Bible verse is the prescription for salvation.  I follow the resource I have selected for the Bible verse I use each day. So I apologize if this is “old hat” because I use Romans 10:9 all the time in either directing people to make a profession of faith in Jesus Christ or to assure Christians of their salvation!

Did you say it? Did you make Jesus Christ your Lord and Savior?   If so you are saved, so let’s follow Him.  

I like to keep things simple because living as a Christian, renewing our minds with the word of God and repenting of our worldly ways will be a complicated enough! So rather than endlessly doubting if we are actually a Christian, I ask people that simple question and then encourage them to live as a Christian if they answer in the affirmative.  

If you don’t feel like a Christian, assure yourself of your profession of faith and start acting like a Christian. Your feelings will catch up as your mind sets itself on the word of God and decides to apply God’s wisdom to the way you live.   

So you run into any who “doubt”, give them Romans 10:9 and ask them the question: “Did you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead?”  

And if they say yes, assure them that they are saved and encourage them to start living like it.

 

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

Today we continue sharing from John Piper’s “Don’t Waste Your Life”.  

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

3. We make much of Christ in our secular work when it confirms and enhances the portrait of Christ’s glory that people hear in the spoken Gospel.

There is no point in overstating the case for the value of secular work. It is not the Gospel. By itself, it does not save anyone. In fact, with no spoken words about Jesus Christ, our secular work will not awaken wonder for the glory of Christ. That is why the New Testament modestly calls our work an adornment of the Gospel. In addressing slaves, Paul says they are “to be well-pleasing, not argumentative, not pilfering, but showing all good faith, so that in everything they may adorn the doctrine of God our Savior” (Titus 2:9–10). The point here is not to endorse slavery (which Paul undermined more indirectly by calling the converted slave, Onesimus, “no longer … a slave but a beloved brother,” Philemon 16), but to show that the way we do our work “adorns” the doctrine of God.

In other words, our work is not the beautiful woman, but the necklace. The beautiful woman is the Gospel—“the doctrine of God our Savior.” So one crucial meaning of our secular work is that the way we do it will increase or decrease the attractiveness of the Gospel we profess before unbelievers. Of course, the great assumption is that they know we are Christians. The whole point of the text breaks down if there is nothing for our work to “adorn.” Thinking that our work will glorify God when people do not know we are Christians is like admiring an effective ad on TV that never mentions the product. People may be impressed but won’t know what to buy.

Removing Stumbling Blocks for Faith

There is another place where Paul expresses the modest role of our work in relation to the Gospel. In 1 Thessalonians 4:11 he tells the church, “Aspire to live quietly, and to mind your own affairs, and to work with your hands, as we instructed you, so that you may live properly before outsiders and be dependent on no one.” The point here is not that our work will save anyone. The point is that if we live and work well, obstacles will be removed. In other words, good, honest work is not the saving Gospel of God, but a crooked Christian car salesmen is a blemish on the Gospel and puts a roadblock in the way of seeing the beauty of Christ. And sloth may be a greater stumbling block than crime. Should Christians be known in their offices as the ones you go to if you have a problem, but not the ones to go to with a complex professional issue? It doesn’t have to be either-or. The biblical mandate is: “Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men” (Colossians 3:23; cf. Ephesians 6:7).

So the third way we make much of God in our secular work is by having such high standards of excellence and such integrity and such manifest goodwill that we put no obstacles in the way of the Gospel but rather call attention to the all-satisfying beauty of Christ. When we adorn the Gospel with our work, we are not wasting our lives. And when we call to mind that the adornment itself (our God-dependent, God-shaped, God-exalting work) was purchased for us by the blood of Christ, and that the beauty we adorn is itself the Gospel of Christ’s death, then all our tender adornment becomes a boasting in the cross.[1]

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

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

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

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

These teachings are also available on the MT4Christ247 You Tube Channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCTxjSNstREpuGWuL0bF3U7w/featured

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

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

Encouragement for the Path of Christian Discipleship



[1] John Piper, Don’t Waste Your Life (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books, 2003), 142–144.

Wednesday, February 2, 2022

Worst Case Scenarios and the End of the World as You Know it– Purity 644


 Worst Case Scenarios and the End of the World as You Know it–  Purity 644

Purity 644 02/02/2022   Purity 644 Podcast

Good morning,

Today’s photo of a bridge stretching over the Oahu countryside under blue skies  along the journey up the Haiku Stairs, aka the Stairway to Heaven, comes to us from friend’s trip to the Islands back in July of 2021. Their trip was truly epic as it was part vacation, part family obligation, and part vision quest as they enjoyed new sights, new accomplishments, and new insights into who they are.   

Life is all about learning who we are and enjoying the things that God has provided for us to experience that includes people, places, and things.   You get out of life what you put into it and when you invest in your relationship with God the returns you receive are simply divine as a life of “walking in the Spirit” puts you in the context of a grand design where every moment has meaning and where you are never alone in your journey, no matter the ups and downs.  

It's Wednesday and even though today’s photo seems to have us in a valley between two peaks, I feel that its implied upward direction was an adequate way of expressing the fact that we will ascend over the “hump” of midweek one way or another and the atmosphere I get from it of “a journey” makes me want to encourage you to be intentional and hopeful as you walk through today and into the future beyond.    

As I shared yesterday, those in Christ are victorious.  We have “won” the unbelievable gift of God’s grace that revealed to us the truth of the gospel of Jesus Christ which caused us to “make a decision” to make Jesus our Lord and Savior: a decision that made us spiritually alive and delivers a new and everlasting life for us to enjoy and experience in the here and now as well as in eternity forevermore.    

Salvation messages tend to point to heaven and life beyond death but my purpose in life is to encourage everyone I know that the gift of our salvation is to be enjoyed now and the journey of being conformed to the image of Christ brings the freedom and abundant life that the scriptures speak of.   

However, there are several obstacles that can hinder Christiasn from experiencing the freedom they have in Christ.  We have to contend with the world and the devil who would tell you that our “religion” doesn’t change anything, and I would agree that the empty practices of a “religion” won’t change much but a dynamic interactive relationship with God certainly will.   

As bad as we have to resist the devil and reject the lies of the world, we also have to deal with what is probably our biggest barrier to experiencing the fruit of the Spirit: ourselves.    

Our closed minds, our cold hearts, and our unwillingness to trust the Lord can keep us in abject misery.  This condition of miserable Christianity usually is defined with proclamations of “I try but…”, “I can’t do that”, “do you expect me to…” “I’m not going to do that…” “I’m only human…”  “I don’t have time for that…” “I need to sleep…” “I’m tired…” “I don’t have the strength”,  “I don’t have the faith…”  and several other statements that speak of our insufficiency and that proclaim a destiny of doom.  

I recently counseled a friend who is seeking their freedom in Christ and who is experiencing a “day of reckoning” as they are surrounded by financial problems, relationship problems, sin problems, and work problems.  They are in a situation that is simply unbearable.  They are wallowing in a situation where there seems to be no answers in sight and whose consequences seem to be leading to a complete disaster.  They are under a mountain and everything they think to do seems hopeless.   

In my early attempts to gauge the situation I tried to simplify matter as offer some simple solutions to try to turn things around.  For every bit of advice I gave there was an excuse for how that wouldn’t work or how they were unable to follow it.  To be honest, I felt a little hopeless and powerless because I wanted to give them advice to turn things around and I wasn’t getting anywhere.  It reminded me of a line from an R.E.M. song:  

 

Offer me solutions, offer me alternatives and I decline

It's the end of the world as we know it….”

Men tend to want to fix things, I think we all do and when  all my advice seemed to be rejected instead of getting upset and to challenging my friend, I decided to agree with them.    

“Yeah, it’s the end of the world as you know it.”  You have made a huge mess and it looks like there are no solutions. It looks like we are going to live out our worst case scenario.   So what does that mean? And what do we do then?

I then reminded my friend that they forgot something, they are not alone in their struggles and that with God they always have a source of hope, power, love, and strength that they can lean on.   

A great deal of the consequences of the mess they are in are the result of poor choices. So in order to turn around they had to make a smart choice to follow the Lord and start living according to His wisdom and ways and to accept whatever might come knowing that the Lord will never leave them and will walk with them through whatever trials and tribulations that their “worst case scenario” may bring.   

I reminded them that the “worst case scenario” would be their death, which would result with them being with the Lord and His kingdom forever.  So not so bad a result after all.   

But let me be clear here, I was not encouraging suicide. I was encouraging my friend to live His life by faith that would accept even his death as being something not to fear.  

When we face our biggest fear and realize that God has the answer for it we can face everything this world, the devil, or our poor choices may cause us to suffer.   

I then pointed out that bankruptcy would probably suck as a consequence too, but I reminded my friend that even that “worst case scenario” didn’t have to destroy them and that even if they suffered that they would still live in the love of the Lord and they would have reason to have peace and joy.       

When we are in Christ, there is simply no “worst case scenario” that we can not survive.  When we live in the Lord’s presence we can receive His love, strength, and wisdom to carry on to the next day and if we keep walking and talking with God we will one day find ourselves beyond “the valley of the shadow of death” and out from underneath the “weight of the world” that we have been carrying.   

Oh but let’s keep this real.  I’m not talking about instant deliverance here! “Oh I need money, so I pray and get a check in the mail!”  While anything is possible with God, there is no learning or maturation in instant blessings and the Lord wants you to learn from the mistakes that you have made in life and wants you to lean on Him and follow Him out of your messes.  That means accepting responsibility for the mess you made. That’s means repenting which means to change our minds and our behaviors to align with God’s ways rather than our own.  That means going continually into God’s presence to be filled with the Holy Spirit to empower our walk and our convictions of who we are in Christ.  That’s means changing the way we think and the way we have lived.  That means being open to the solutions and alternatives that may be unthinkable.   

When I made that suggestion, my friend started to think of some underhanded way of hiding finances to relieve his burden.  

I reminded them that as Christian we don’t do that. We accept responsibility and take our lumps for the dumb decisions we have made. We work toward solutions with honesty and integrity, and we prepare ourselves for a long journey to freedom and deliverance.   

When we decide to follow the Lord, we align ourselves with the eternal One and our commitment should be forever.  That means going His way and trusting that He will lead us out of the desert and that we will remain faithful to follow Him no matter how long it takes.   

Seems impossible, where’s the quick fix?    

Our relationship with God is the quick fix as He gives us eternal life, forgiveness of sins, and the power to overcome the moment we say yes to Jesus but in order to experience it all we must humbly submit to the Lord  and resist the devil, the world, and our old ways.  

God will see us through even our “worst case scenario”  but we won’t have any peace if we refuse to trust Him and follow Him in the way we should go.   So trust the Lord to see you through today.  His mercies are new every morning, so enjoy them and then trust the Lord to see you through to the next day.  The journey out of the darkness is a collection of steps that bring you closer to the light a little bit each day.  So keep going with God and one day you discover that your situations will change and that you have the ability to find peace and joy even in “your worst case scenario.”  

It may be the “end of the world as you know it” but God has a new life and a new world for you to live in. So open your heart, open you mind, and follow the Lord to know it.

 

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

This morning’s meditation verse is:

Psalm 147:3 (NLT2)
3  He heals the brokenhearted and bandages their wounds.

Today’s verse speaks of the Lord’s healing of the broken hearted and who He will bandage up our wounds.   

Our God is not just the God of the good times and season of prosperity. One of the greatest promises of God is that He will never leave us or forsake us, and it is most evident in the dark seasons of our lives where we are broken hearted.   

When we suffer loss and heartache we are often woken up from the world of illusion to see the harsh realities of death and of how people can be selfish and uncaring.  We can feel utterly alone and enter into a state where everything seems unreal because our innocence is lost and the way we thought of the world as a “nice place” is shattered.       

But the Lord never wanted us to find peace and meaning from this broken world of sin and death, the peace that goes beyond all understanding comes from Him and Him alone.   

I encourage people to pray to the Lord every day as a spiritual practice because I know of the great comfort that comes from being in His presence and the benefits of receiving His love, strength and wisdom.   But you have to go to Him to experience it.  And when you are broken hearted or hurting or wounded, the Lord is waiting with open arms to take comfort you and take your pain away.   

Healing might not come in an instant, but the Lord will patiently abide with you and restore you when you lean on Him.  The old adage that “everything is going to be okay” is only true when you are in relationship with God through faith in Jesus Christ.   

So press into your relationship with the One who caused the blind to see, and the lame to walk. If he can do those things, you can trust Him to heal you’re your broken heart too.  

 

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 7.   

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

THE EFFECTS OF ADDICTION

People caught in addictive and immoral patterns of behavior are subjected to some of the cruelest harassment of the enemy. First, Satan tempts them to sin, then he mercilessly condemns them for sinning, and then he attacks their sense of worth. If they believe the lies, they will start thinking that they are nothing more than a hopeless sinner, alcoholic, or addict.

You do not have a chemical problem, or sex problem, or drug problem, you have a life problem. You will not be successful just trying to eliminate bad behavior; telling you that what you are doing is wrong does not give you the power to stop doing it. You need to get right with God, and then the life of Christ will be manifested in you, and you will have the power of God to overcome the sin. If you are filled (controlled) by the Holy Spirit, you will not carry out the desires of the flesh.143 You don’t need condemnation! You want to be free from sin, because nobody likes to live in bondage to sin.

GOING THROUGH STEP SIX

Overcoming habitual sin may require help from a trusted brother or sister in Christ. James 5:16 says, “Confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another, so that you may be healed. The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much.” Sometimes the assurance of 1 John 1:9 is enough: “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”

Confession is not saying, I’m sorry. It is openly admitting, I did it. Whether you need help from other people or just the accountability of walking in the light before God, pray the following prayer aloud:

Dear Heavenly Father, You have told me to put on the Lord Jesus Christ and make no provision for the flesh in regard to its lust. I confess that I have given in to fleshly lusts that wage war against my soul. I thank You that in Christ my sins are already forgiven, but I have broken Your holy law and I have allowed sin to wage war in my body. I come to You now to confess and renounce these sins of the flesh so that I might be cleansed and set free from the bondage of sin.

Please reveal to my mind all the sins of the flesh I have committed and the ways I have grieved the Holy Spirit. In Jesus’ holy name, I pray. Amen.144

The following list contains many sins of the flesh, but a prayerful examination of Mark 7:20-23, Galatians 5:19-21, Ephesians 4:25-31, and other Scripture passages will help you to be even more thorough. Look over the list below and the Scriptures just listed and ask the Holy Spirit to bring to your mind the ones you need to confess. He may reveal others to you as well. For each one the Lord shows you, pray a prayer of confession from your heart. There is a sample prayer following the list. (Note: Sexual sins, eating disorders, substance abuse, abortion, suicidal tendencies, and perfectionism will be dealt with later in this step.)  Note: If you are struggling with habitual sin, read Overcoming Addictive Behavior (Bethany House, 2003).

For each item that you checked above, confess to the Lord as follows:


·       Quarreling/Fighting

·       Complaining/Criticism

·       Lustful Actions

·       Swearing

·       Lying

·       Anger

·       Drunkenness

·       Procrastination

·       Stealing

·       Jealousy/Envy

·       Sarcasm

·       Gossip/Slander

·       Apathy/Laziness

·       Hatred

·       Lustful Thoughts

·       Cheating

·       Greed/Materialism

·       Others


 

 

Lord Jesus, I confess that I have sinned against You by (name the sins). Thank You for Your forgiveness and cleansing. I now turn away from these expressions of sin and turn to You, Lord. Fill me with Your Holy Spirit so that I will not carry out the desires of the flesh. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.

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

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

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

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

These teachings are also available on the MT4Christ247 You Tube Channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCTxjSNstREpuGWuL0bF3U7w/featured

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

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

Encouragement for the Path of Christian Discipleship

Saturday, January 1, 2022

Starting the New Year Off Right – Life in Context – Purity 617


 Starting the New Year Off Right – Life in Context – Purity 617

Purity 617 01/01/2022  Purity 617 Podcast

Good morning,

Today’s photo of a blazing sun over a snow covered field next to Waite Rd in Easton NY comes to us from yours truly on what proved to be the last day in 2021 that the sun made such a spectacular appearance. Some may know that this photo was captured on the day after Christmas. It was a Christmas that simply was like no other I had experienced previously because it was a veritable cocktail of the fruit of the Spirit as it had aspects of goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, patience, self-control, peace, love, and joy as I spent the day alone with my fiancĂ©, but as unmarried Christians who wanted to honor the Lord, we decided to leave some gifts unopened.  

Well today we are getting married and after our covenant is official and blessed by the Lord we will rejoice and seek to enjoy our love without limits knowing that the Lord would approve as we followed His plan for marriage. Just like today’s photo shows us beyond the forest areas of Waite Road, we have made it out of the woods of our short engagement to discover the wide open places that God has waiting for us to experience in marriage.

So it’s sort of a great way to start the New Year.  We will be coming together in the presence of our family and friends to have our love legitimized and blessed by the Lord God Almighty as we only wish to do His will individually and as a couple from this day forward and for evermore.   

Ok, yesterday I did a year in review of sorts where I detailed some of my walk in 2021 and how blessed I was to find my bride and claimed that God had been with me.  

Someone who had obviously suffered some loss or trauma in 2021 replied to my post stating in essence that it was “good for me” because God had let a lot of other people down in 2021.  

Well, the problem I have with that statement and idea is not with the person who made it but the lack of understanding that it represents that is common among the populace in general and also in the body of Christ.   There are some presuppositions that are inherent in a claim that God “let us down” that are the product of ignorance and the deceptions enemy or an evil mix of both.  

Christianity and life in general have some hard truths to face.  What the enemy does is he takes the nice aspects of our world and tries to rip them to shreds by actively seeking to steal, kill and destroy us but then turns around and whispers in our ears that it is wrong when we lose those nice aspects of life through suffering.     

Some teachers in the body of Christ do us all a great disservice by emphasizing some of God’s qualities over others and make grand promises based on the word of God that are taken out of context or are not necessarily guaranteed for every Christian to experience in every season of their lives.  

The fact that God will help us, protect us, provide for us, and prosper us is true but our ideas of what we should have and when we should have it may not align with what the Lord has in mind.  Also the promises of God are intended for the people of God, those who put their faith in Jesus Christ, and those promises are often conditional. 

Yesterday’s verse of the day, Psalm 37:5, taught us that God will help us, but the first part of the verse demanded that you commit everything you do to the Lord and trust Him.  So have you committed everything you do to the Lord? Do you trust Him?  

If you are saying “Yes” through tears from the pain of loss and suffering, I commend you, but the Bible also tells us to “wait on the Lord.”  

I know, when we are suffering, nobody wants to hear that they have to wait.   

One of those harsh realities of life is that we will suffer, and we will have to wait.  Don’t believe me? Just go the emergency room at your local hospital today and watch as the suffering of the patients is judged and given a preferential order of importance.  Only if your life is hanging in the balance will you get moved to the front of the line and even that is not guaranteed as hospitals and doctors sometimes have to decide who will live and who will die because of depleted resources.   

Cheery thought for New Year’s Day, I know, but I think the only way we come to trust the Lord is to know the truth. 

The idea that God lets people down presupposes somethings that are unrealistic, selfish, or just uninformed.  

In order to trust the Lord, we have to know the Lord and we have to accept His kingship as sovereign God.  While we have a measure of free will to make choices in life, God, as the Creator of all things and the One who lives above and beyond time and space itself, determines where we go into eternity.   God makes everything for His purposes and is shaping human history to fulfill the prophecies in His word. God is in control.  

However as humans we have a pretty selfish and limited view of life and unfortunately we don’t know what role our lives play in God’s grand design.  And even worse, some people believe the lies of the enemy that seem to adhere to the ways of world but deny the reality of the unseen God.  

When we are selfish or hurting, we are very vulnerable to the lies of the enemy and unknowing side with him by pushing our own agenda rather than looking for God’s purpose for their life.   Here are some lies that surround trauma that the enemy seeds the earth with that grow relatively unabated:

·       Why did they have to die?  It’s a mystery   -  It’s not a mystery, since the fall of man, sin came into the world and is the unseen cause of death for everyman.  All men throughout history have died and all men will die until Christ returns to reclaim the earth.  

·       It wasn’t their time! – Wrong. There is nothing that God doesn’t know about beforehand. If someone dies, it was their time, obviously – they are dead. 

·       There is no God! – Wrong.  The universe and all life, His creation, speaks of the reality of a Creator. Our consciences that tell us right from wrong are the product of God’s law written on the hearts of men who are made in His image.  Also people whose lives are changed because of their interactions with God through miracles, providence or sanctification also bear witness that God is alive, real, and cares about mankind.  

·       It’s wrong that they had to die! Death is wrong! -  Death is part of life because of the fall of man and it is used to send the evil to eternal punishment and to send those who put their faith in Jesus Christ to God’s eternal kingdom. 

·       It’s wrong. They will never get a chance to experience the good things in life… - Nothing on this earth compares to the glory of God’s kingdom. If we think the things of this world are better to being in the presence of the Lord, we need to seek His presence to know how good He is.

·       No good God would allow this to happen! What’s the purpose in suffering!? – Wrong. Suffering is a product of the fall of man, sin. It can be used to judge people or draw them to seek peace with the Lord.   When bad things happen to evil people, few question if it was right.  The problem is that according to the word, all sin and fall short of the glory of God and that those who do not make peace with God through faith in Jesus Christ will be judged and lost in eternity so the suffering on this earth is purposeful and will be alleviated or increased depending on your eternal destination.  

·       You don’t know what it’s like! – God does. He knows all things.  Jesus lived as a man and suffered greatly before dying for our sins.  We can find comfort in the presence of the Lord here on earth and eventually in His eternal kingdom.       

·       God doesn’t care! – Wrong. He does.  He cared enough to send His only begotten Son to suffer and die for us. Those who put their faith in Him and follow Him as a disciple can experience the fruit of the Spirit here on earth and is guaranteed a good place in His eternal kingdom.  

·       You can’t know God! -  That’s a lie. The Bible was written by the inspiration of God so we can know all about Him and to teach us that a new eternal life is possible through faith in Jesus Christ.   Also the Lord’s presence can be experienced through the Christian disciplines of Bible Study, prayer, worship, praise, thanksgiving, and walking in the Spirit.   If you don’t know God, it is because you are not seeking Him or living in rebellion to His ways for living or both. 

·       It’s not fair!  - I’m not sure what your concept of fair is but because of our sin we deserve death. Everyday alive regardless of the circumstances are a gift and is to be used for God’s purposes. If we aren’t living out God’s purposes for our lives, we in affect are choosing to suffer through our own actions or inaction. 

In my walk through life, I have suffered losses and traumas and suffered because of the choices I made or through my own inaction.   I think I have said all the statements above at one time or another in my life.  

While I may have not suffered through all the pains that other people have suffered, I have lost a few automobiles due to accidents, mismanagement, and deer.  I have had experience with various broken relationships that could be classified as abusive. I have suffered the loss of a couple houses and personal property, one due to a fire, specifically arson, and another to divorce.  I have suffered various injuries and diseases, including a cancer scare with ongoing monitoring of that situation. I have lost a child to an early death and a suffered a persistent depressive period that followed loss.   

For a lot of that trail of tears, I didn’t have a relationship with God and when the bad times came I felt all alone thinking there was no God, or I was angry at God. Thankfully, the great sufferings I went through in life caused me to seek the meaning of life.  I didn’t know it, but I was seeking truth.  I didn’t know it, but I was seeking God.  

And even though I made some real wrong turns in life and looked for love in all the wrong places, my seeking was genuine and was eventually rewarded when God revealed the truth of gospel of Jesus Christ to me, of how Jesus was the means that God created to make peace with mankind.

Through Christ we are forgiven of our sins and become adopted children of God’s eternal kingdom.  

AFTER, AFTER, AFTER – we put our faith in Christ, we can know God and experience our presence in our lives.   We come into relationship with God and the implications of that relationship cause us to a make choice. 

What kind of relationship are we going to have?  Are we going to commit everything we do to the Lord by learning all about Him in His word and adjust our lives to live according to His ways?  Are we going to trust Him even in the bad times, even when we are suffering, and even when we have to wait?  

The alleviation of our suffering comes through knowing God and applying His wisdom to our lives.  If we understand how He is and what He says we are, we can choose to live within the context of His truth even though we are surround by a world that deny Him and accuse Him of wrong.   

How dare we question God’s goodness! He made all of this existence! Anything good we have known in our lives, comes from God. How dare we call evil what has given us all the good we’ve known!

After coming to Christ, I suffered quite a bit to free myself from addiction and a broken marriage but when I did God was with me. When my situation absolutely sucked and would be considered a raw deal by almost anyone, I had the Lord to lean on and guide me through the darkness. 

As someone who has suffered before and after coming to Christ, I can testify that suffering with God is a whole lot better than suffering without God.  God gives our lives meaning and purpose and when we know Him we know that everything happens for a reason and that He will ultimately lead us to good and the trials we face can either be used to drive us to despair or to drive us to Him and the maturation that results.   

So as everyone seems to be declaring 2021 to be the terrible, horrible, very bad, no good year, I welcome you to 2022 and ask you to consider you living this year in the context of God’s reality, by either placing your faith in Christ or rededicating yourself to Him and choosing to seek the Lord and follow Him.  If you want, you can call it “MT’s 365 day – Walking in the Spirit Challenge!” 

So turn away from the world’s lie sand doubts, turn away from the worldly way of doing things,  and decide to live 2022 by walking by faith in the power of the Holy Spirit by reading God’s word, praying to Him, and then living out your faith every day.  

A Christian life is not without suffering but brother and sister, when you stay connected with God 24/7 you somehow find light in the darkness, you find the calm in the storm, and you find a way where there was no way.  

So keep walking and talking to God for He is with you!

 

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

This morning’s meditation verse is:

Romans 6:19 (NLT2)
19  Because of the weakness of your human nature, I am using the illustration of slavery to help you understand all this. Previously, you let yourselves be slaves to impurity and lawlessness, which led ever deeper into sin. Now you must give yourselves to be slaves to righteous living so that you will become holy.

Today’s verse suggests the need for a change of lifestyle that Christians are to make their purpose for living.

As Christians, we are not supposed to stay in a lifestyle of sin by claiming Christ’s forgiveness. We are to be sanctified – to become holy.      

Here the Apostle describes the spiritual reality of sin’s hold on mankind with the analogy of slavery.  As much as we choose to think that our sins are a volitional choice, the fact that we are powerless to stop proves that our supposed freedom is in fact bondage.  

Ironically, to get free Christians need to make the choice to become slaves to righteousness.  God gives us the power over sin and death to every believer but to experience victory we have to shackle our choices in life to adhere to God’s standards for living described in the Bible.  

It is only through our faith in Jesus Christ for our salvation, and faith in His work being sufficient to save and change us forever by which we can walk away from the besetting sins that kept us in bondage.  

We are set free indeed, but we have to choose to become slaves to righteousness.  Slaves don’t have a choice. They must do what their master tells them.  If we are slaves to righteousness, we will live righteously. We don’t have a choice; we just do what righteousness leads us to do.   

And for the Christian, our righteousness is Jesus Christ.  We are made righteous because of Christ so we are to become slaves of Christ. 

Some one has said deciding is easy when you don’t have choice.  When you decide to follow Christ, there is but one choice: do your best to represent Him in all that you do.  

So free yourself from one evil master of sin, and sell yourself to a master of righteousness, who is Christ the Lord, and you will discover what real freedom means.  

 

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 2.   

 

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.

PRAYING FOR THE RIGHT GUIDANCE

The first step toward experiencing your freedom in Christ is to renounce (verbally reject) all involvement (past or present) with occult, cult, or false religious teachings or practices. Participation in any group that denies that Jesus Christ is Lord and/or elevates any teaching or book to the level of or a level above the Bible must be renounced. In addition, groups that require dark, secret initiations, ceremonies, vows, pacts, or covenants need to be renounced. God does not take lightly false guidance. “As for the person who turns to mediums and to spiritists... I will also set My face against that person and will cut him off from among my people” (Leviticus 20:6). Since you don’t want the Lord to cut you off, ask Him to guide you as follows:

Dear heavenly Father, please bring to my mind anything and everything that I have done knowingly or unknowingly that involves occult, cult, or false religious teachings or practices. I want to experience Your freedom by renouncing any and all false guidance. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.

The Lord may bring events to your mind that you had forgotten, even experiences you participated in as a game or thought was a joke. You might even have been passively or curiously watching others participate in counterfeit religious practices. The purpose is to renounce all counterfeit spiritual experiences and their beliefs.

To help bring these things to your mind, prayerfully consider the following Non-Christian Spiritual Checklist. Then pray the prayer following the checklist to renounce each activity or group the Lord brings to mind. He may also reveal to you ones that are not on the list. Be especially aware of your need to renounce non-Christian folk religious practices if you have grown up in another culture. It is important that you prayerfully renounce them out loud.

Non-Christian Spiritual Checklist

Check all those that you have participated in:

 


        Out of Body Experience

        Ouija Board

        Bloody Mary

        Occult Games

        Magic Eight Ball

        Spells or Curses

        Mental Telepathy/Control

        Automatic Writing

        Trance

        Spirit Guides

        Fortune Telling/Divination

        Tarot Cards

        Levitation

        Witchcraft/Wicca/Sorcery

        Satanism

        Palm Reading

        Astrology/Horoscopes

        Hypnosis

        Astral Projection

•Seances/Mediums/Channelers

        Black or White Magic

        Blood Pacts

        Fetishism/Crystals/Charms

        Sexual Spirits

        Martial Arts (Mysticism)

        Jehovah’s Witness

        New Age (Teachings, Medicine)

        Masons

        Christian Science/Mind     Science

        Unification Church (Moonies)

        The Forum

        Church of Scientology

        Unitarianism/Universalism

        Yoga (Religion, not the Exercise)

        Hare Krishna

        Baha’ism

        Native American Spirit Worship

        Islam

        Hinduism

        Buddhism (including Zen)

        Black Muslim

        Rosicrucianism

        False gods: money, sex, power, pleasure, certain people


        Other: non-Christian religions, cults, movies, music books, video games, comics, fantasy games that glorify Satan that precipitated nightmares or mental battles, and all other questionable spiritual experiences including spiritual visitations and nightmares

 

Additional questions to help you become aware of counterfeit religious experiences:

Do you now have, or have you ever had, an imaginary friend, spirit guide, or “angel” offering you guidance or companionship? If it has a name, renounce it by name.

Have you ever heard voices in your head or had repeating, nagging thoughts such as “I’m dumb,” “I’m ugly,” “Nobody loves me,” “I can’t do anything right”—as if there were a conversation going on inside your head? You should renounce paying attention to deceiving spirits.

Have you ever been hypnotized, attended a New Age seminar, or consulted a medium or spiritist? You should renounce each experience.

Have you ever made a secret vow or pact or inner vow? (i.e., “I will never . . .”) You should renounce such vows and pacts.

Have you ever been involved in a satanic ritual or attended a concert in which Satan was the focus? You should renounce such experiences.

 

Once you have completed your checklist and the questions, confess and renounce every false religious practice, belief, ceremony, vow or pact that you were involved in by praying the following prayer aloud:

Lord Jesus, I confess that I have participated in (specifically name every belief and involvement with all that you have checked on the spiritual checklist), and I renounce them all as counterfeits. I pray that You will fill me with Your Holy Spirit that I may be guided by You. Thank You that in Christ I am forgiven. Amen.

If you have been involved in a false religion, you need to renounce specific beliefs and practices that you have participated in. For instance, if you came out of the Mormon religion, you may need to renounce the secret initiation you had and the ceremonies in baptisms and marriages for the dead in which you participated. If you are unsure whether a previous practice was false or not, but God is bringing it to your remembrance, you can be nearly certain it is something to renounce.

One area that sometimes needs explanation is sexual spirits. Demons may manifest themselves in vivid sexual dreams or fantasies or by a demonic presence in the room that aroused you sexually. Extreme cases will be vile in nature. If you stood against it at the time, there is nothing to renounce. It is no sin to be under attack. If you participated with the sexual spirits, then you need to renounce any involvement and every sexual use of your body as an instrument of unrighteousness.

The “Non-Christian Spiritual Checklist” is not exhaustive, so when you have finished checking off the items, ask the Lord if there is anything else you have participated in that you should renounce. Let the Holy Spirit bring those items to your mind. Any number of things might surface: books, photos, movies, music, or other materials, religious customs or traditions, praying to idols or angels by name, beliefs such as atheism, agnosticism, hedonism, or pharisaic control groups.

Some believe they don’t have a choice, but they do, and so do you. Consider the following illustration:

If I were to come to your house tonight and knock on your door, you would first come to the door to see who is there, and then you would have a choice to make. You could open the door to allow me to come in, or you could close the door to deny me access. In the same way, when the enemy tries to invade your mind with lies and accusations, you have a choice to make. You can choose to allow those thoughts to come in, or you can deny them access. To “open the door” to enemy lies, you simply remain passive. You let him set the agenda for your thoughts. To “close the door,” you take your thoughts captive to the obedience of Christ. You can choose to believe the truth or you can choose to believe a lie. You can choose to think bad thoughts, or you can choose to think upon that which is lovely, pure, and right. It is your choice.

You must assume responsibility for your own thoughts. You may not realize how passive you have been about entertaining deceptive thoughts. Others have never even considered the possibility of not obeying what they are paying attention to. In some difficult cases, a person will continue to be bombarded with thoughts that sound like voices in the head. If this happens, consider the following illustration:

Suppose we’re trying to carry on a conversation in a room where there are speakers playing loud music or there is a talk show blaring on the television set. If we wanted to continue our conversation, we would have to simply ignore the speakers. In the same way, you can choose to ignore those voices or thoughts. You can choose to believe, “I’m a child of God, and I will continue to work through the issues and find my freedom in Christ.”

When you exercise your authority in Christ that way, the symptoms usually subside, but it probably won’t be completely over until the last Step. Remember, they are just distracting noises and thoughts.

To make this Step complete, you should discard any books, photos, materials, artifacts, music, or any other items or gifts you own that may be tied to anything on the list. These may be symbols of allegiance to other gods, and if so, they are counterproductive to walking in the Kingdom of light. Follow the example found in Acts 19:19, where believers got rid of anything associated with darkness. Recognizing that Satan could continue to use the tools of their former religious practices, they publicly destroyed about 50,000 days’ wages worth of books, which is a mind-boggling sum. These New Testament believers would make any sacrifice to be rid of Satan’s influence in their lives and prevent further influence in their families.

CHOOSE THE TRUTH

While going through the Steps, you may have discerned specific events that have had a dramatic effect on your life, or specific lies you have believed. Hopefully you directly renounced them. For example, a woman had nagging fears and anxieties about her experiences with her aunt who was heavily involved in witchcraft. She was helped to pray, “I renounce any way in which Satan is using my relationship with my aunt against me. I renounce anything she said or did to me, and anything she may have done on my behalf. And I thank You, Lord, that I am not a victim of those experiences. I am a child of God and free to be the person You created me to be.”

Another woman had been led into a life of prostitution by her mother. She remembered that at a very young age a fortune-teller said to her, “Honey, you have a beautiful face and body. That will help you make it through life.” She was led to renounce that false prophet and the lies that she should use her appearance and body to make it through life. Then she was encouraged to announce the truth that her body is a temple of the Holy Spirit and that God would supply all her needs.55 Whenever you renounce a lie or any counterfeit experience, you should also affirm the truth and the Christian practices that enable you to live free in Christ.

CHAPTER TWO:

OVERCOMING FALSE GUIDANCE

44. Proverbs 28:13

45. Matthew 3:7, 8

46. Romans 12:2

47. 1 Timothy 4:1

48. Matthew 24:24

49. 2 Corinthians 11:13-15

---------------------------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