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Showing posts with label Faith. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Faith. Show all posts

Saturday, November 5, 2022

I Don’t Have Enough Faith - I Ain’t no Un-Fortunate Son - Purity 881


  I Don’t Have Enough Faith - I Ain’t no Un-Fortunate Son - Purity 881

Purity 881 11/04/2022 Purity 881 Podcast

Good morning,

Today’s photo of a South Adelaide sunset comes to us from Dave Baun Photography (https://www.facebook.com/DaveBaunPhotography) as Dave shared this back on August 16th asking: “Who doesn’t love a good sunset? I mean really, do you know anyone that doesn’t?”    

As much as I agree with Dave’s sentiments that we could assume that everyone loves a good sunset, I was reminded yesterday sometimes the things that we are so clear to us can be obscured or completely unseen by others.  “Everyone” is a whole lot of people and I bet there are some of us that know people that struggle to see the good in anything, even spectacular sunsets from South Australia. 

But that’s not me, that’s not me… I ain’t no Un-fortunate One

No, It ai’nt me, It ain’t me…. I ain’t no Un-fortunate son.   .   

Pardon the CCR song parody distortion but man, I lived in the shadow of the darkness of depression, pessimism, and skepticism for way too long  and the Lord opened my eyes to the truth of who He is, who Jesus Christ is, who I am in Christ, and I just can’t help but see the beauty that the Lord has made every where I look and when I hear supposed Christians lament about the darkness of the hour or the perceived lack in their lives I have to trumpet the truth  and be a voice of encouragement that tells anyone who will listen that God is good and He takes care of those who put their faith in Christ and choose to follow Him with the way they live their lives.   

Well it is Saturday, and while I have to work today, I know boo hoo, I pray that all my friends, whether working or not, have a blessed day and a wonderful weekend because regardless of our current circumstances the Lord has made a WAY for all of us to have peace with Him and an abundant life of freedom, love, peace, and joy.     

And that “WAY” is Jesus Christ. But you have to believe in Him, trust in Him, put your faith in Him, and receive what the Lord has given to us as  FORTUNATE adopted sons and daughters to the King.     

Yesterday, I was reminded of one of the biggest lies of the enemy, that runs rampant in churches and keeps Christians bound in bondage to sin, the victim mentality, and spiritual infancy.  

What is this lie that is repeated and proclaimed as a rationalization for repeated failures or lack of peace?  

The lie is: “I don’t enough faith.”   

Amazingly, the people who proclaim this lie even have a life verse to stand on. They echo the prayer of the father of a demon oppressed child who pleaded to Jesus in tears:

Mark 9:24 (NKJV)
24 … "Lord, I believe; help my unbelief!"

Instead of standing in faith, they proclaim their unbelief, or a lack of an adequate faith, and lament of their lack of peace or “good feelings” or good circumstance s in their lives.  Instead of building up their faith and renewing their minds by studying and agreeing with what the word of God says about who they are in Christ, they claim a lack of faith capacity or the ability to believe.  

Other derivatives of this lie include: 

“I wish I could believe but I can’t.” 

“That may be true for them, but it’s not true for me.” 

“I don’t have the faith like them.”    

These dejected Unfortunate children of God have more faith in their failures than they do in the Lord.  By proclaiming their lack its not surprising they are sad because  they are making a self fulfilling prophecy of doom and depression.  They have forgotten the face of their Heavenly Father and have lost themselves in the mirror of self-introspection and fallen victim to fleeting feelings by not Abiding in Christ.

If I choose to I could see bad in everything. I could see that others are more gifted or “blessed” than me.  I can have a real pity party about all the things others have that I don’t.   I could even look at today’s sunset photo and tell you how it’s not so great or even go to a wild extreme and speak on how the sun is actually hostile to us and is just looking to give us sunburns and skin cancer, that that sunset is actually trying to kill us.   

Or I could choose to see the good in God’s creation and in my situation. 

But what if my situation is lacking? And it isn’t so good or has been better before? What if I can’t see the good here on the earth?  

That’s why we need God.

If we look to ourselves or the world, we would only see that things are falling apart and that we are all going to die.  

But the Lord sent Jesus Christ and showed us through His resurrection that death is not the end.  There is more to our existence then this life. There is an unseen spiritual realm, God’s kingdom, and Lord has a plan for His creation that will culminate in Christ returning and the eventual will establish a new heaven and a new earth.  

And not only do we have a bright future with the Lord but our faith in Christ also gives us power to overcome and to experience the fruit of the Spirit in our lives.   Before taking pity on the man and his demon oppressed son, Christ said

Mark 9:23 (NKJV)
23  … "If you can believe, all things are possible to him who believes."

He also said in

John 10:10 (NKJV)
10  … I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.

So the sky is the limit, but we have to believe the abundant life that Jesus promised us is possible, We have to believe that it is available to us and we have to have faith and follow His wisdom to receive it. 

And when I say receive it, don’t get me wrong I am not talking about some prosperity gospel here.  Christ has already given us everything. He has given us eternal life.  And no matter what situation is if we realize what we have in Christ, we can see that even our Unfortuante circumstances will have some fortunate circumstances and regardless of what we have or done have materially, we have everything spiritually.

But if we doubt, if we disbelieve, or if we take our eyes off of Christ, we can believe the lie that we have nothing, or we don’t have enough faith.  

While we may lack somethings in this life, we have everything we need in Christ. And time and time again, scripture tells us that through faith we can receive all kinds of things like: healing, peace, freedom, victory, love, and joy.  

But if you are proclaiming your lack of faith or your unbelief, you won’t see the Glorious Son or all the things He has given you.  

So keep walking and talking with God and agree with what He says about you and allow your faith in Him provide you with the abundant life that is filled with the fruit of the Spirit that he has for you.

 

 

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

This morning’s meditation verse is:

1 Peter 3:15-16 (NLT2)
15  Instead, you must worship Christ as Lord of your life. And if someone asks about your Christian hope, always be ready to explain it.
16  But do this in a gentle and respectful way. Keep your conscience clear. Then if people speak against you, they will be ashamed when they see what a good life you live because you belong to Christ.

Today’s verses encourage us to worship Christ as the Lord of our lives and explain to others that our hope comes from Him and to live a good life.  

Today’s verses set up the expectation that if Jesus is our Lord that we will live good lives that are beyond reproach and that will exemplify hope.  

Surrendering to the Lordship of Jesus is the key to Christian living. We don’t stand on our freedom to do whatever we want, we follow Him and when we do that we have clear consciences and we will have a life of peace and hope that others can see.   

Our Christian faith is a belief that has no discernable difference from our unsaved neighbors.  Our faith is a lifestyle of righteous living. Our faith changes the way we live and the people we used to be and will cause us tell others about it.  

So if you don’t have peace or the abundant life, repent and worship Christ as your Lord and follow His Way that leads to a clear conscience and an ongoing testimony of righteous living and hope.  

  

___________________________________________

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 Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s “Discipleship”, also known as “The Cost of Discipleship”

As always, I share this information for educational purposes and encourage all to purchase Bonhoeffer’s books for your own private study and to support his work.  This resource is available on many websites for less than $20.00.

The Sermon on the Mount

Matthew 6

On the Hidden Nature of the Christian Life

The Hiddenness of Prayer

“And whenever you pray, do not be like the hypocrites; for they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, so that they may be seen by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward. But whenever you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you in public. When you are praying, do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do; for they think that they will be heard because of their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him” (Matt. 6:5–8).

Jesus teaches his disciples to pray. What does that mean? We should not take for granted that we are allowed to pray. Of course, prayer is a natural need of the human heart, but that does not mean that human beings have a right to pray before God. Even when it is done with firm discipline and practice, it can be fruitless and without promise. The disciples may pray because it is Jesus who tells them to do so, and he truly knows the Father. He promises them that God will listen to them. So the disciples may pray only because they are in the community of Jesus, because they follow him. Anyone who is bound to Jesus in discipleship has access to the Father through him. Thus, every true prayer is mediated prayer. There is no such thing as unmediated praying. Even in prayer there is no unmediated access to the Father. Only through Jesus Christ may we find the Father in prayer. Faith, adherence to Christ, is the presupposition of prayer. He is the only mediator of our prayer. We pray trusting in his word. So our prayer is always prayer bound to his word.

We pray to God, in whom we believe through Christ. Therefore our prayer can never be a pleading with God. We do not need to pose before God. We may trust that God knows what we need before we ask for it. This gives our prayer greatest confidence and joyous certainty. It is not the formulation, not the number of words, but faith which reaches God’s fatherly heart that has known us so long.

Genuine prayer is not a deed, an exercise, a pious attitude. Rather it is the request of the child to the heart of the Father. That is why prayer is never demonstrative, neither before God nor before ourselves, nor before others. If God did not know what I need, then I would have to think about how I should tell God, what I should tell God, whether I should tell God. But the faith out of which I am praying prevents such reflecting or demonstrating.

Prayer is necessarily hidden. It is the opposite of a public act in every way. When people pray, they no longer know themselves; they know only God, to whom they are calling. Because prayer does not reach out into the world, but is directed solely to God, it is the least demonstrative act there is.[1]

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

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

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

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

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

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

My wife, TammyLyn, also offers Christian encouragement via her 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] Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Discipleship, ed. Martin Kuske et al., trans. Barbara Green and Reinhard Krauss, vol. 4, Dietrich Bonhoeffer Works (Minneapolis, MN: Fortress Press, 2003), 152–153.

Monday, October 24, 2022

Walking into Wide Open Spaces and Why “You Lift All Them Weights!” - Purity 870

 

Walking into Wide Open Spaces and Why “You Lift All Them Weights!” - Purity 870

Purity 870 10/23/2022  Purity 870 Podcast

Good morning,

Today’s photo of my faithful companion, Harley, wearing his “foxy sweater” and standing in front of a stand of trees displaying autumn colors, comes to us from yours truly as I decided to take our landlord’s invitation to go off road and explore his property.  

When you show your integrity as a Christian by just doing what is right and meeting your responsibilities, all kinds of doors will open up to you. And when someone tells me that I am welcome to enter into a new experience that I thought was off limits, I generally step into it with enthusiasm.  

To make Harley visible in today’s photo I really had to zoom in, so I am sharing the original also on the blog today to give you all an idea of just how wide open the space was that we walked into and to see just how big and blue the sky was that was over us in Easton New York’s version of Big Sky Country!  If you y go to the blog to see it, I just want to point out that the photo that I titled “Great Wide Open” is just one cross section of the 360 degree panorama of cleared fields and distant forests that surrounded us as we boldly walked into the unknown expanses beyond the gorge behind our countryside home.   


Well, it’s Monday again and even though its back to work and back to reality, I want to encourage everyone who has read thus far to accept my invitation to broaden your horizons by stepping out in faith to seek all that the Lord has for you because a lifestyle of living in the presence of God and walking in the Spirit is not something that most people even consider as possible and my ongoing testimony is intended to let everyone know just how good God is and how amazing your life can be when you start walking and talking with Him.   

After I spent nearly 40 years in a lifestyle of confusion, sin, and worldliness after I experience the love and forgiveness of God upon my salvation, I was intentional in my new life in Christ to know God more and to seek out His will for my life and while the narrow road that Christ has put me on hasn’t been free of trials and tribulations, I am here to tell you that it is through following Christ alone where the pathway to peace is found, both here on earth and as it will be in heaven.  

As wobbly as my walk was in my Christian infancy, I had a real desire to know that I was following a God who was real, good, and holy and I went into my journey of faith with the skepticism and caution of someone who wasn’t going to accept much of anything unless I could know and experience that it was true.  At the same time though, I also understood that this faith walk was uncharted territory so while I was going to proceed with caution I realized that I also had to have an open mind and an open heart to consider the Lord’s ways because they were foreign to the world’s wisdom of the “ends justify the means” and the “take what you want” mentality. 

So I started, praying, and reading the Bible on my own, listening Cto hristian podcasts, going to church, serving there, going to a men’s Bible study, and eventually enrolling in Bible college, all in the pursuit of seeking to know God more and to seek out His will for me.      

And now, 12 years after I said the prayer that put my faith in Christ, I can tell you that although I have learned a lot and experienced a lot in my faith walk,  I can easily admit that there are still wide open spaces to walk into and that there is simply no end in sight of how much we can know about God, our Christian faith, and about our lives walking with the Lord. 

Although there are dry and dusty areas that we will experience on this path of faith, I have managed to keep things “fresh” by continually seeking the “next thing” that the Lord has for me but without abandoning the basic disciplines of discipleship and I think that is a key to progress. We keep doing what we are doing in terms of reading the word of God, again?!? Oh yeah again, and staying connected to the Lord in prayer and just talking to Him as we go on a daily basis, but we also keep our eyes forward and keep our eyes on that horizon to see what the Lord is bringing us to.  

This morning I was a reminded of a quote by the Super Bowl Champion coach of the NY Giants, Bill Parcels who inspired his team on the side lines of a game once by saying:

“Hey fellas! This is what you work all off season for. This is why you lift all them weights! This is why you do all that $&#%!”   

Just like the “Big Tuna”, Coach Parcels, I would encourage Christians to do disciplines that will make your faith strong and prepare you for what the Lord wants you to do.     

For the Christian, lifting weights is reading the Bible, praying, going to church, reading Christian books, praising, worshiping, and listening to Christian music or podcasts.  

These disciplines of the Christian make our faith strong by renewing our minds and reshaping our hearts. Just like lifting weights or working out, these disciplines should be done wisely and consistently in a manner that will build your capacity but in a way that will not overwhelm you. 

You start with small weights and then, when you are stronger you lift heavier weights.  

When we first come to faith in Christ, we can’t lift much but we should lift something! And we should seek to engage our “faith muscles” regularly and consistently in order to gain wisdom and the capacity to let more of what God has for us into our lives. That can involve an openness to receive what God has for you and a willingness to surrender our old wisdom and ways for His higher wisdom and ways.  That involves a humbleness to admit “I didn’t know that” or what may be an even harder thing to say: “I was wrong.”   

But don’t worry, you didn’t know any better, and neither did those who tried to “coach” you to live in this world independently of God.  

But now we do know. God has opened our eyes to the truth of Jesus Christ and while knowing Him is enough to save us, we should not be shy to accept the Lord’s invitation to walk into the wide open spaces of His wisdom, love, and light to discover all the things the Lord has for us that we could never see in our former darkness.  

So start or keep “lifting them weights” and keep walking and talking with God to know Him more and to explore all He has for you to see and all He has for you to be that lies somewhere over the next horizon on your journey from here to eternity.   

    

 

 

 

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

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

This morning’s meditation verse is:

Psalm 94:14 (NLT2)
14  The LORD will not reject his people; he will not abandon his special possession.

Today’s Bible verse speaks one of the most important promises of our faith. The Lord will not reject us and He will not abandon us.  The Lord will never leave or forsake us and this is what can give us a continuing sense of hope.  

This is the one of the greatest things about our faith. We can count on the Lord, ALWAYS.  

In this life, people will come and go. Family, friends, loved ones, and neighbors will go in different directions from us. Some will leave us because of our faith in Christ!  Ask me how I know! Actually don’t ask me, because there are simply too many people to count! Through my life in general, and through the last 12 years specifically, there are a whole lot of people that I will probably never see, in the flesh, or even on social media again. 

But the Lord? He is always available. He is always with us!

So rejoice in knowing that He will not reject you or abandon you and that He considers you to be His special possession.

___________________________________________

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 Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s “Discipleship”, also known as “The Cost of Discipleship”

As always, I share this information for educational purposes and encourage all to purchase Bonhoeffer’s books for your own private study and to support his work.  This resource is available on many websites for less than $20.00.

The Sermon on the Mount

Matthew 5

On theExtraordinaryof Christian Life

Kindred concludes

Anyone who is angry toward a sister or brother, who aims harsh words at them, who scorns or slanders another in public, has, as a murderer, no place before God. Alienating oneself from another person causes alienation from God. Such alienated persons no longer have access to God. Their offerings, their worship, their prayers cannot please God. For the followers of Jesus, unlike the rabbis, service to God in worship can never be separated from service to sisters and brothers. Contempt for others makes worship dishonest and deprives it of any divine promise. Individuals as well as church communities who intend to enter God’s presence with contemptuous or unreconciled hearts are playing games with an idol. As long as we withhold service and love from a sister or brother, as long as he or she remains a target of our contempt, as long as a sister or brother has something against me or Jesus’ community, our offerings will remain unaccepted. It is not just my own anger which gets between me and God, but even the fact that a brother or sister exists whom I have abused, humiliated, and dishonored, and who “has something against me.” So the community of Jesus’ disciples ought to examine itself as to whether it is here and there at fault toward sisters and brothers, and whether, for the sake of the world, it has participated in hating, despising, and humiliating others. To do these things is to be guilty of their murder.[89] Jesus’ community today ought to examine whether at the moment it enters God’s presence for prayer and worship many accusing voices rise up between it and God and hinder its prayers. Jesus’ community ought to examine whether it has given a sign of Jesus’ love, which preserves, supports, and protects lives, to those whom the world has despised and dishonored. Otherwise the most correct form of worship, the most pious prayer, and the bravest confession will not help, but will give witness against it, because it has ceased following Jesus. We are not allowed to separate God from our sister or brother. God does not want to be honored if a sister or brother is dishonored. God is the Father. Yes, God is the Father of Jesus Christ, who came to be brother to us all. That is the ultimate reason why God refuses to be separated from our sister or brother. God’s own Son was dishonored and humiliated in order to honor the Father. But the Father, refusing to be separated from his Son, will likewise not be separated from those whose humanity the Son assumed as an equal and for whose sake the Son bore his humiliation. Because the Son of God became a human being, service to God in worship can no longer be detached from service to sisters and brothers. Those who say that they love God and yet hate their brothers or sisters are liars.[92]

Thus there remains only one path for those who in following Jesus want to truly serve God in worship, and that is the path of reconciliation with their sisters and brothers. Anyone who comes to the word and sacrament with an unreconciled heart stands judged by doing so. Such a person is a murderer in God’s sight. That is why you must “first be reconciled to your brother or sister, and then come and offer your gift.” It is a difficult path Jesus imposes on his disciples. It includes much humiliation and dishonor for the disciples themselves. But it is the path to him, our crucified brother, and thus, it is a path full of grace. In Jesus, service to the least brother or sister and service to God became one. He went and was reconciled to his human kindred and then he came and offered himself, the one true sacrifice, to his Father.

This is still a time of grace, for brothers and sisters are still given to us and we are still “on the way with them.” The day of judgment lies before us. There is still time to offer satisfaction to a sister or brother; there is still time to pay what we owe to those to whom we are indebted. The hour is coming in which we shall be handed over to the judge. Then it will be too late; then righteousness and punishment shall rule until the last debt is paid. Can we understand that our sisters and brothers are not given to Jesus’ disciples as an expression of the law, but of grace? It is grace to be permitted to satisfy our sisters and brothers, and to help them attain their rights. It is grace that we may be reconciled with our sisters and brothers. They are our grace before the day of judgment.

The only one who can speak to us like that is the one who himself, as our brother, became our grace, our reconciliation, our salvation from judgment. The grace of sisters and brothers is granted to us in the humanity of the Son of God. Might the disciples of Jesus seriously contemplate that!

Service to sisters and brothers which satisfies them and respects their rights and life is the path of self-denial, the path to the cross. No one has greater love that those who lay down their lives for their friends. That is the love of the crucified one. Thus, this commandment is fulfilled solely in the cross of Jesus.[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] Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Discipleship, ed. Martin Kuske et al., trans. Barbara Green and Reinhard Krauss, vol. 4, Dietrich Bonhoeffer Works (Minneapolis, MN: Fortress Press, 2003), 120–125.

Friday, May 6, 2022

Simply Amazing – Asking THE Awkward Question - Purity 724

 

Simply Amazing – Don’t Doubt Who You Are In Christ - Purity 724

Purity 724 05/06/2022   Purity 724 Podcast

Good morning,

Today’s photo of “a beautiful view late in the afternoon with some silhouettes of people enjoying the day” on the shores of Hallet Cove Beach in Adelaide South Australia comes to us from Dave Baun photography. You can follow Dave on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/DaveBaunPhotography/) with a link on the blog today and you can also read a blog post I shared last year about how a photographer from Pennsylvania found himself living in the land Down Under.  His wife Liisa shared their ” beautiful story of how God can take two hearts from opposite sides of the planet and make them collide” with me after she discovered my teachings of Victory Over the Darkness on the mt4christ247 podcast and allowed me to share it on the blog. Follow this link to read Liisa’s story in her words and see the wedding video (https://www.mt4christ.org/2021/04/this-is-testimony-of-my-australian.html). 

Well it’s Friday and stories like Liisa and Dave’s, and My wife TammyLyn and mine, testify of the fact of how God will move people to do things, to go places, and to meet people that they would have never experienced if they didn’t answer the call to make the Lord a part of their life.  In our stories, we sought the Lord first and followed where he led us not knowing what He had in store for us.   

Hebrews 11:6 (NKJV) says
6  But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.

If I were to only able to share one piece of advice or one word of encouragement, it would be: to seek the Lord. The rewards we receive for faithfully seeking the Lord lie beyond our imagination because when we decide to seek and to follow God we simply do not know all the things He will work together for our good.  A life dedicated to following the Lord’s call is best described as amazing. It is amazing in its grace that takes us from death to life and amazing in the true sense of the word as we will live in the definition of amazing – that we will encounter things “causing great surprise or wonder”. Things that are “astonishing.”

Last night, in the Men’s Freedom in Christ Course that I facilitate on Zoom, even though we are only in the half of the class, one of the participant’s is already testifying of the peace that he has found now that he has decided to investigate the Christian faith for himself and to apply the truths of God’s word to His life. 

In this world where one’s religion can be seen as a list of requirements, and Christianity can be no different, one can wonder and doubt whether they really are a Christian.

This particular participant didn’t necessarily come boldly into the class proclaiming himself as a Christian so I was somewhat hesitant to directly ask him if he has put his faith in Christ but as we have advanced in the course the questions in the course are presented with the presupposition that at this point the participant’s have alrready put their faith in Christ. So last night it was a little awkward asking they guys about what they have noticed has changed since becoming a Christian, when in this man’s case I didn’t know for sure if he was a Christian.  

So, being me, and actually following a basic principle of Nouthetic (biblical) counseling, I just asked the question: are you a Christian? 

And this is a good point to recognize, if in our walk we come to a place where we are in conflict, may be we find ourselves between two people who are presenting different views of what they are going through and we really don’t know what to think and while we don’t want to offend anyone, we are stuck in our ability to advice or counsel because things are unclear.  So what do we do?  Well we have to make things clear.  We have to confront the “elephant in the room”. We have to present what we have heard, how we perceive it, clarify if our perceptions are correct, and point out the inconsistencies that we are getting from the various views and try to rectify them with the wisdom found in the word of God.  When we are seeking to reconcile people to God and put them on the path to peace that comes from being in harmony with Him, all problems are considered through the lens of the Christian faith.   We recommend just doing what feels good or to do things according to what society deems okay, we direct people to seek and follow the Lord’s wisdom for our lives.   

So when the course brought us to a place where the presumption was being made that the participants had faith in Christ,  I had to ask the awkward question and clarify things, one way or the other.  Have you put your faith in Christ? Are you a Christian?  

And not surprisingly, I was asked a clarifying question in response. 

Well, what do you mean by “Christian”?   Yup, he “Bill Clinton”ed me!  And you know what? that’s okay.  Sometimes we need to know what the meaning of “is” is!

So for him, and for you, I simply presented being a Christian through the lens of scripture, right? With

Romans 10:9 (NKJV) which says
9  that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.  

And I should have included

Romans 10:10 (NKJV) which says
10  For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.

Because I then asked him if there was ever a point in his life where he had a moment where he say the truth of who Jesus was and made a decision is his heart to ask God for forgiveness of his sins and to make Jesus his Lord and Savior.  

To which my friend, and now fully confirmed brother in Christ said:  “Oh, yeah! Absolutely.”  

He then explained that he had doubts about his faith or status as a Christian because of the other Christians that he had experienced in his life seemed to present the Christian faith with a lot of “have to’s” or “should’s”.  Like you “have to go to church, and read the Bible, and do street preaching, and tithe, and etc, etc , etc.”  

So looking at Romans 10:9, we can see that all that “stuff” while good are not required for salvation. If you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, Lord Jesus, and believe in your heart (like really believe -not just a mental assent) that He was raised from the dead (why is this a big deal – oh maybe because His resurrection proves He is God). then you will be saved. That’s it. That’s all folks. It is through faith in Jesus Christ ALONE that we are saved.  

This basic truth was a great relief to our friend, our brother in Christ.  After this exchange, a burden seemed to be lifted from his shoulders and he testified of how he was greatly encouraged by the Case for Christ documentary, link on the blog (https://youtu.be/rbTSyqbUz1A) , that I had shared with Him because it demonstrated how the Christian faith was rational and reasonable and he described how since he started investigating his Christian faith he has increasingly experienced peace that he simply didn’t have before. Amazing.   

So, if you are a sheepish sheep in the Lord’s flock, who may doubt your membership in God’s royal family, let me assure you that the only requirement for being in the faith is faith, faith in Christ.  

If you believe in your heart that Jesus was and is who He said He is, and that His death on the cross was meaningful, that it did pay for the sins of all who put their trust in Him, and you believe that He was raised from the dead, you are saved. You are forgiven. You are a child of God and only need to believe and trust in what the Lord has already done for you. In Christ we have new life, it’s only a matter of believing that truth, and living according to it, to experience the amazing life that God wants you to live.  

So Thank God it’s Friday, and keep walking and talking with God because when you do that you will be amazed at what Lord has in store for you.   

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

This morning’s meditation verse is:

Luke 1:37 (NKJV)
37  For with God nothing will be impossible."

Today’s Bible verse comes from a heavenly messenger and encourages us to know that there is nothing that is impossible with God.

This statement was from the Angel Gabriel who was sharing the amazing news that Mary would have a baby through the power of the Holy Spirit. Talk about impossible. But Mary was a virgin and Christ was born, as the song says “on Christmas day in the morning!” Nothing is impossible with God.  

God is the creator of the universe.  He literally created everything out of nothing.  He is self-existent. No one created God. He is the One who has always been and is over above time and space and will determine the course for His creation.  

The miracles of Jesus teach us that Jesus was God and that things we would think were impossible were possible through Christ.  

Testimonies through out the history of Christendom speak of miracles in the lives of believers.  While miracles are very rare, they prove that God is still active in our world  and nothing is impossible for Him.  

In our lives as disciples as we repent from our worldly ways, the Lord may put it on us to do things we never would have even through to try to do before coming to Christ. Changing our lives and obeying the Lord might seem impossible. But the Lord gives all believers the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit to empower us to accomplish all that He call us to do.  If we believe, if we have faith, if we trust the Lord and do what He calls us to do, not just get what we want necessarily,  we will see the Lord help us to do what we thought was impossible. 

We can do all things through Christ who strengthens us but the first step to being amazed is believing that with God nothing is impossible.

 

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.

Risking for the Wrong Reasons

There is more than one danger in calling Christians to take risks. I mentioned one of them in Chapter 4, namely, that we might become so fixated on self-denial that we are unable to enjoy the proper pleasures of this life that God has given for our good. Another danger, which is worse, is that we might be drawn to a life of risk for self-exalting reasons. We might feel the adrenaline of heroism rising. We might scorn the lazy and cowardly and feel superior. We might think of risk as a kind of righteousness that makes us acceptable to God. What would be missing from all these mistakes is childlike faith in the sovereign rule of God in the world and in his triumphant love.

I have been assuming that the power and the motive behind taking risks for the cause of God is not heroism, or the lust for adventure, or the courage of self-reliance, or the need to earn God’s good will, but rather faith in the all-providing, all-ruling, all-satisfying Son of God, Jesus Christ. The strength to risk losing face for the sake of Christ is the faith that God’s love will lift up your face in the end and vindicate your cause. The strength to risk losing money for the cause of the Gospel is the faith that we have a treasure in the heavens that cannot fail. The strength to risk losing life in this world is faith in the promise that he who loses his life in this world will save it for the age to come.

This is very different from heroism and self-reliance. When we risk losing face or money or life because we believe God will always help us and use our loss, in the end, to make us more glad in his glory, then it’s not we who get the praise because of our courage; it’s God who gets the praise because of his care. In this way risk reflects God’s value, not our valor.

This foundation for fearlessness must not be assumed. We are wired to risk for the wrong reasons. Without Christ, we are all legalists or lechers at heart—wanting to do our own thing, or wanting to do God’s thing in our way to prove our own ability. Since we are wired this way, we need protection. God has given us another way to pursue risk. Do it “by the strength that God supplies—in order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ” (1 Peter 4:11). And the way God supplies his strength is through faith in his promises. Every loss we risk in order to make much of Christ, God promises to restore a thousandfold with his all-satisfying fellowship.

The Power to Risk Is in the Promise of God

Earlier in this chapter I mentioned Luke 21:16 where Jesus says to his disciples, “Some of you they will put to death.” But I did not mention the promise that follows: “You will be hated by all for my name’s sake. But not a hair of your head will perish” (verse 18). This is one of those painful paradoxes in the Bible: “Some of you they will put to death.… But not a hair of your head will perish”! What does this mean? What is Jesus trying to say to us when he says, “Go ahead and risk obedience; some of you they will put to death; but not a hair of your head will perish”?

I think the best commentary on these verses is Romans 8:35–39.

Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? As it is written, “For your sake we are being killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.” No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Compare these terrible and wonderful words with what Jesus said: “Some of you they will put to death.… But not a hair of your head will perish.”

Like Jesus, Paul says that the love of Christ for us does not eliminate our suffering. On the contrary, our very attachment to Christ will bring suffering. What is Paul’s answer to his own question in verse 35: “Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword separate us from the love of Christ?” His answer in verse 37 is a resounding NO! But don’t miss the implication of the question: The reason these things will not separate us from the love of Christ is not because they don’t happen to people whom Christ loves. They do. Paul’s quoting of Psalm 44:22 shows that these things do in fact happen to Christ’s people. “For your sake we are being killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.” In other words, Christ’s love for us does not spare us these sufferings. Risk is real. The Christian life is a painful life. Not joyless. But not painless either.

Does God Really Supply All We Need?

This is the meaning of the little word “in” found in verse 37: “In all these things we are more than conquerors.…” We are more than conquerors in our afflictions, not by avoiding them. So Paul agrees with Jesus: “Some of you they will put to death.” Obedience is risk. And it is right to risk for the cause of God. Some of the risks are mentioned in verse 35:

• “tribulation”—the trouble and oppression of various kinds that Paul says we must walk through on our way to heaven (Acts 14:22).

• “distress”—calamities that bring stress and threaten to break us like a stick (2 Corinthians 6:4; 12:10).

• “persecution”—active opposition from the enemies of the Gospel (Matthew 5:11–12).

• “danger”—every kind of threat or menace to body, soul, and family (2 Corinthians 11:26).

• “sword”—the weapon that killed James (Acts 12:2).

• “famine and nakedness”—the lack of food and clothing.

I put “famine and nakedness” last because they pose the greatest problem. Did not Jesus say:

Do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? … do not be anxious, saying, “What shall we eat?” or “What shall we drink?” or “What shall we wear?” … your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. (Matthew 6:25, 31–33)

“Well, which is it?” we might ask. Are Christians subject to “famine and nakedness” or will God provide “all these things” when we need them? Will Christians never hunger or starve or be ill-clothed? Have not some of the greatest saints in the world been stripped and starved? What about Hebrews 11:37–38? “They were stoned, they were sawn in two, they were killed with the sword. They went about in skins of sheep and goats, destitute, afflicted, mistreated—of whom the world was not worthy—wandering about in deserts and mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth.” The losses and miseries of these believers was not owing to their unbelief. They were faithful—people “of whom the world was not worthy.”[1]

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

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Encouragement for the Path of Christian Discipleship


[1] John Piper, Don’t Waste Your Life (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books, 2003), 90–93.